By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘That Glowing Center in All of Us’Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is to make the keynote address on October 9 at the Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s opening press conference, set in the new Frankfurt Pavilion at the center of the complex’s Agora.
The Nigerian author, as Publishing Perspectives has reported, will, later on that day, be honored at the British Library in London with the PEN Pinter Prize, given annually, according to PEN literature, “to a writer of outstanding literary merit from Britain, the Republic of Ireland, or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.’”
The Frankfurter Buchmesse, October 10 to 14, is observing its 70th anniversary this year, and its opening press conference will be reflective of the same anniversary for the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (More about Frankfurt’s #OnTheSamePage campaign on human rights is here.)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie divides her time between Nigeria and the United States and has become one of the English language’s most acclaimed authors of socially relevant and culturally impactful literature. Her speaking engagements frequently revolve around her concern for what in May she told Harvard’s Class Day audience is “a culture of calling-out, a culture of outrage.”
In her comments made on the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day in 2016—as the American political campaign of Donald Trump was reaching its anti-immigration crescendo—she spoke quite eloquently to the problem today of how, amid the rise of nationalistic and isolationist political forces, “Nobody is ever just a refugee. Nobody is ever just a single thing.
“And yet, in the public discourse today, we often speak of people as a single thing. Refugee. Immigrant. We dehumanize people when we reduce them to a single thing. And this dehumanization is insidious and unconscious.”
Ngozi Adichie grew up on the campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where her father was a professor and her mother was the first female registrar. After studying medicine for a year during university, she left for the United States at the age of 19 to continue her education on a different path.
She was awarded a Hodder fellowship, which is given to writers and artists of exceptional promise, at Princeton University for the 2005-2006 academic year, a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008, and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Adichie’s work has been translated into more than 30 languages. In Germany, she’s published by S. Fischer Verlag.
She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus (Algonquin Books, 2003), which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf/Anchor, 2006), which won the Orange Prize (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction); and Americanah (Knopf, 2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of that year.
Her 1917 Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is published by Knopf/Anchor and won the Grand Prix de l’Héroïne Madame Figaro.
Her short story collection, The Thing Around Your Neck, was published by Fourth Estate and Knopf in 2009.
Ngozi Adichie is also known for her TED talks, including the 2009 The Danger of a Single Story and the 2012 TEDx Euston presentation, We Should All Be Feminists.
“‘We cannot measure our humanity, but we can act on it,” Ngozi Adichie told the UN’s Humanitarian Day audience in 2016, gathered in the General Assembly chamber in New York City. She was interrupted several times by spontaneous rounds of applause.
“Our humanity is that glowing center in all of us. It is what makes us speak up about an injustice, even when that injustice does not personally affect us. It is what makes us aware that we are better off if our fellow human beings are better off. …
“Creating room for people is not only doable. It is a moral imperative. It is the moral imperative of our time.”
You can see Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s address at the United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day 2016 event in the video below.
More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurt Book Fair is here, and on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie here.
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