TED Talks, Blogging, and Celebrity

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Popular Imagination

Authored by: Steven Almquist

Routledge Handbook of African Popular Culture

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367483869
eBook ISBN: 9781003080855
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay explores the intersection between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s popular persona and her literary texts. Adichie’s popular projects, most notably her two TED Talks, have brought the author fame and recognition, but they also offer hermeneutical tools for understanding her more conventional literary works. Speaking to multiple audiences through various media, Adichie explores the politics of authorship – how are stories told, and who gets to tell them? – and this essay argues that her paratextual persona complements her published literary texts in exploring these questions. Her stories and novels often incorporate metafictional musings on how authorship and, by extension, readership are constructed, and they challenge the perceived divide between literary and popular culture. Her literary works also explore concepts that she presents in public lectures and interviews, such as authorial authenticity or gender politics. Ultimately, this essay highlights the benefits of reading Adichie’s popular and conventionally literary works through a complementary framework that can reveal the author’s interest in the power of storytelling.

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