Thursday, January 13, 2011

Niyi: "Leave Chimamanda to, for, Literature"!

"Of course, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the indisputable phenomenon in the current literary landscape. Chimamanda surely deserves a special mention here. A writer with a remarkable maturity and insight. Humorous, engaging, self-assured. Some people see her as picking up the narrative baton where Chinua Achebe left it, but I have always counselled that we grant her the full measure of her own talent without finding her a literary father. Achebe’s prodigy is, in many respects, inimitable; Adichie’s own is inalienably hers. Those who call her rise meteoric cannot be far from the truth, but her meteor is the type that generates light without crashing from the firmament. She has a lot going for her. I think our literary scene is lucky that a figure like her has emerged. However, her kind of phenomenal rise hardly comes without its own perils. Adichie has to watch out for the dangers of over-packaging and over-exposure. With these two come the twin incubi of exploitation and commoditization. I cringe whenever I see Chimamanda on bill boards planted by disingenuous bureaucrats from the REBRAND NIGERIA section of the Ministry of Information. I sense something profoundly foul when I see vote-rigging, treasury-looting politicians whose acts have tarnished Nigeria’s image now touting a new literary messiah whose global renown will wash away the mess they have created and keep creating. I have a sense of unease when I flip over to the back page of a glossy magazine and I see the image of a literary figure being used to promote the fortunes of a commercial bank. This is Hollywoodization, the type of which we have never seen in the Nigerian literary scene. Nor is this razzmatazz restricted to the social and political scene: our literary critics and media commentators must also take care so as not to praise Adichie to death – in a manner of speaking. This is hardly the time to do full-length literary books on an author still on the rise, still in the making. Two novels and a book of short stories are not enough yet. Let Adichie write more, produce more books, contradict (yes) and complicate herself in her own oeuvre; for it’s from such contradictions and complications that images give birth to ideas, ideas to visions, visions to wisdom; wisdom to cognition. Let us discover the multitude in Adichie before we commence on a census of her fictive/imaginative world. Let us give this writer a place to stand and stare. Too much spotlight is not good for the writing eye. Let’s grant her the privacy she needs for continuous creativity. Leave Chimamanda to, for, Literature." - Niyi Osundare as Interviewed on 22 December 2010 by Ademola Adesola of The Nation


Nicole Rodrigues August 18, 2011 at 2:12 AM  

What a fantastically beautiful text you wrote. Nothing could be more truth: the unquestionable talent of Chimamanda as well as all the dangers that came together with her apotheotic success. I am a Brazilian writer and translator and I have a great deal of curiosity and admiration for her but, like you said, I like the idea of giving a step back and give her space to just be. To be the writer she wants to be and to patiently read her books whenever and however they come.
Congrats for your blog. It will be my pleasure to “visit you” from now on.
Kindest regards,
Nicole Rodrigues

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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