Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Discussion on Adichie's "Purple Hibiscus"

This evening, we had a discussion at St. Olaf College on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus, organized by Professor Joan Hepburn f the English Department. She had lined me up as discussion leader together with herself.

I started the discussion by giving the context of Adichie's life and work. I stated how she fit in the tradition of African Anglophone literature which goes back to the days before independence as is exemplified  in Nigeria by writers like Amos Tutuola, Chinua Achebe, and Cyprian Ekwensi.

I then discussed Adichie, her upbringing on a university campus in Nigeria and her travels abroad, including her time as a student in the USA. I emphasized the cosmopolitanism in both her life and writings. I talked about her writings, highlighting her novels and short stories and giving an overview of her key themes. I mentioned her TED lectures as well.

After my presentation, Professor Hepburn led a discussion of Purple Hibiscus, which moved through key themes such as family, religion, and politics. We dwelt at length on the theme of religion and its peculiar effects on characters like Papa. We probed these themes in depth and discovered the complexity with which they are realized.

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