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Critically acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie participated in a public forum on the relationship between literature and human rights on Tuesday, February 26 in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To a packed audience of approximately 400 that spilled out into the Global Education Center’s atrium and classrooms, Adichie captivated listeners with stories of her writing life, Nigeria, and what it means to tackle controversial and raw subjects in the fictional form. Audience members had the opportunity to ask Adichie questions and share how her work has moved or inspired them in their own lives. Her frank discussion on her writing influences,  the notion of recognition in fiction, and where she situates her work in political and literary discourse was greatly appreciated by all, and the line was long for her book signing following the event.

Adichie has been described by the Times Literary Supplement as the most prominent of young authors “succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature.”

Her work includes poetry, short fiction and novels that have earned numerous awards. Her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was also long-listed for the Booker Prize. Her second book, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” which re-creates a seminal moment in modern African history-Biafra’s impassioned secessionist struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria and the chilling violence that followed-was awarded the Orange Prize.

Born in Nigeria, Adichie graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State, and received a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in African studies from Yale. Her Nigerian background sets the stage for her work, which explores the pressures of history and society on ethics and human identity. She has noted her writing honors “the collective memory of an entire nation.”

Adichie’s fiction is characterized by a courage and ambition to grapple with critical issues of race and identity, the nationalisms and ethnic ties that lead us to war, the global forces producing violence and the fight between old-age colonialism and the new world. She weaves characters of different races and classes together in the sweep of history.

The event was co-sponsored by the Curriculum in Global Studies, the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, the Department of Geography, the African Studies Center, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Global Fund, the Center for Global Initiatives and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.