restricted access Adichie’s Genealogies: National and Feminine Novels

Both of Chimananda Adichie’s novels name their relation to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. More important, they form part of a longer tradition of writing by African women, while at the same time, they extend that tradition. Like novels by Nwapa, Emecheta, Bâ, and others, Adichie’s novels represent a politics of the family while quietly but clearly telling stories of the nation; this is especially the case with her first novel, Purple Hibiscus. Adichie also tells more explicit tales of the Nigerian national imaginary, especially in her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. By appropriating some of the structural elements of Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, as she did of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Adichie advances her storytelling in Purple Hibiscus by telling a domestic tale with yet stronger national overtones. By illustrating a crosscontinental set of inspirations and intertexts in Purple Hibiscus I reveal Adichie’s exploration of the contemporary Nigerian political crisis.

True great realism thus depicts man and society as complete entities. . . . Measured by this criterion, artistic trends determined by either exclusive introspection or exclusive extraversion equally impoverish and distort reality. Thus realism means a three-dimensionality, an all-roundedness, that endows with independent life characters and human relationships. It by no means involves a rejection of the emotional and intellectual dynamism which necessarily develops together with the modern world.

—Georg Lukács