Purple Hibiscus
by Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

"One of the most vital and original novelists of her generation." -Larissa MacFarquhar, The New Yorker

From the bestselling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home-a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father's authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins' laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories 2003, the New Yorker, Granta, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. Purple Hibiscus, her first novel, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her novel Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Broadband Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a People Best Book of the Year; her novel Americanah won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her story collection, The Thing Around Your Neck, was the winner of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A recipient of a 2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother, Jaja, live a regal life in impoverished Nigeria. Their father is a very powerful man who owns many factories, lavishes money on his church and the local schools, and publishes a newspaper that is outspokenly critical of the country's repressive regime. But their marble palace often feels like a prison because the children are terrified of their father's temper; at home, he is a religious tyrant who exerts a fanatical control over their schedules and often beats their mother. They are overjoyed when their father unexpectedly allows them to visit his sister, Ifeoma, whose three children are quick to laugh, engage in vehement discussions, and pitch in to help the family cope with food and petrol shortages. Kambili, who is almost rendered mute in the presence of her boisterous cousins, slowly starts to open up. This impressive first novel is redolent in its depiction of the Nigerian countryside and generates a palpable narrative tension over what's to become of Kambili and Jaja's newfound sense of freedom. ((Reviewed September 15, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Earnest debut about a 15-year-old girl's struggle to blossom under the tyranny of her father's-and country's-strong arm.Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a luxurious life in Nigeria as the only children of a powerful man. Their father virtually supports his home village, owns factories, and, most importantly, owns the newspaper that champions free speech and the rights of the people at a time when silence is far safer. Papa is a hero. But at home in their quiet marble palace, Kambili and Jaja live in fear of regular beatings: "lessons" on how to become more pious Catholics. Mama's miscarriages are the result of these, and Jaja has a deformed finger. The three are forever in danger of breaking the rules but are never quite sure what the rules are. Papa begrudgingly allows Kambili and her brother to visit his sister Ifeoma, and the trip, the first time away from their parents, is a revelation to the siblings. Widowed Auntie Ifeoma is a university professor and mother of her own three markedly different children. Though poor, Auntie Ifeoma's house is filled with laughter, discussion, opinions and freedom, so different from the tightly regimented schedule Kambili and Jaja are used to that at first Kambili barely opens her mouth. Slowly (and with the help of young Father Amadi, whom she develops a crush on), Kambili begins to enjoy life a little. Alongside Kambili's narrative is a portrayal of the sad state of contemporary African politics-the poverty-inducing corruption, rioting, and uncertainty of basic needs. Like many first-novelists, Adichie tries for too much; her portrayal of Kambili's home life is striking but provides far too incomplete a depiction of Papa. Her portrait of Nigeria is fascinating but fragmented. Auntie Ifeoma and the cousins are likable enough but not memorable.Nonetheless, with Kambili the author has created a compelling narrative-and a surprising punch at end. A young African voice welcome to American shores.Author tour. Agent: Djana Pearson Morris/Pearson Morris & Belt Literary Management Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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