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Apr 24, 2009

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Profile

In her harrowing novel Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie transported 650,000 British readers to war-ravaged Biafra. Now she turns her fierce intelligence to short stories telling of her life in America. William Skidelsky meets the prize-winning author

Born 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie, a registrar and a professor at the University of Nigeria. Brought up in Nsukka as a Roman Catholic, she loved Enid Blyton books and began writing from an early age. Studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria before leaving for the United States aged 19.

2001 Received a BA in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University.

2003 Her first novel, Purple Hibiscis, garnered widespread critical acclaim. Completed a creative writing MA at Johns Hopkins university, Baltimore.

2007 Half of a Yellow Sun, set during the Biafran war, won the Orange Prize.

2008 Graduated with an MA in African Studies from Yale University.

She says

"I don't think all writers should have political roles but I, as a person who writes realist fiction set in Africa, almost automatically have a political role."

They say

"Here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. She knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. She is fearless."
Chinua Achebe, author

Imogen Carter

• The Thing Around Your Neck is published by Fourth Estate