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Discovering Chimamanda

Before reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”, I had been so drawn by her very presence in videos. She is the first African woman I recall counting as one of “The Greats” in my list of people who continue to inspire me. I don’t exactly remember how I came across her, but I do know it involved searching for “African writers” on YouTube, just to see what I could find. Immediately, she caught my attention. Chimamanda carried this enchanting, sharp intelligence and wit about her, but she was also a person who appeared to be very soft and guarded. She’s one of the truest examples of an artist that I’ve seen in a while. My admiration for her extended well beyond the way she carried herself, but also into her writings. I’d never read anything by any African author prior to reading her work (not even Chinua Achebe or Desmond Tutu, who are household names in my family’s home) and I instantly felt a kindred emotion for Chimamanda’s work. I thought that the transformative power of words on the pages of her book were things only accomplished by writers of African descent, nationality or place of birth irrelevant. I was reminded of Toni Morrison when she said that “Black literature is aural”. Even though Adichie isn’t Black American, I personally feel this idea of “aural-sounding” literature applies to her as well due to orature being entwined in various West African cultures, and by extension those of us in the African Diaspora. The way she uses words to suit her own ends and manipulates the emotions in a scene is beyond remarkable. I know I’ve found a good writer when I can hear the words on the page and forget I’m reading them. She is such a blessing to the craft of writing and storytelling.

-Jonathan Turner

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