Book Talk: Author Adichie doesn't mind her own business

Wed Jul 1, 2009 1:31am EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a professional eavesdropper: she admits a lot of what she writes is based on what she's overheard.

Adichie, whose second novel "Half of a Yellow Sun" won her the Orange Prize for fiction in 2007, says that while most of her characters are inspired by the stories her family tell, she's also heard some incredible tales at cafes in the United States or while shopping at markets back home.

She recently released a collection of short stories, "The Thing Around Your Neck," that tell even more tales -- deceptively simple stories set in Nigeria and abroad that explore complex themes such as loneliness, cultural alienation and relationships.

Born in Nigeria in 1977, Adichie grew up in the university town of Nsukka. She moved to the United States to attend college, graduating with a major in communication and also holds masters degrees in creative writing and African studies.

Adichie's first novel, 2003's "Purple Hibiscus," earned her rave reviews, the Best First Book award in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and comparisons with renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, author of the widely read "Things Fall Apart."

Adichie, who was in Sydney recently to attend a writers' festival, spoke to Reuters about the art of telling stories:

Q: You are praised for your story-telling abilities. How different is a story-teller from an author?

A: "I don't know really. I think of myself as a story teller. I think there are writers that are less interested in stories in the conventional sense and more interested in using words to create atmosphere or mood."   Continued...