Widely loved Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the award-winning novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, has written a new short story for a fashion magazine. Harper’s Bazaar published Adichie’s How Did You Feel About It? on August 11.
“In the quiet carriage we sat angled away from each other. We always rode the quiet carriage, but today it felt like a gift: a reason not to talk. Jonathan in his maroon sweater cradling his iPad. The sunlight weak, the morning uncertain. I was staring at the magazine in my hand, deeply breathing in and out, a willed and deliberate breathing, aware of itself. Breathe – such an easy target for scorn, so often summoned as panacea for our modern ills. But it worked. It helped push away my sense of engulfing tedium, even if only for brief moments. How does this happen? How do you wake up one morning and begin to question your life?”
The story, a potent, if brief, portrait of a marriage (or two?) unfolds within the confines of a quiet carriage. A lot happens when almost nothing does. The author’s clean, layered prose slips in and out of warm and chilly tones as it rides the bumpy terrain of companionship and ways of seeing. Adichie has written several short stories over the years, published in various newspapers and magazines, and in the stirring collection, The Thing Around Your Neck.
Apart from her body of work in fiction and nonfiction, Adichie has also become the face of modern feminism, in and beyond Africa. Her 2012 TED talk “We should all be feminists” catapulted her to the global spotlight, beyond her loyal readership, having been viewed more than five million times, and later turned into a published essay. Her latest book, Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, based on her moving letter to a friend she posted on Facebook on how to raise a feminist daughter, “goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the 21st century”.