Do you dream of being a writer? Do you love to become internationally acclaimed like Helon Habila, Chimamanda Adichie and others but you are not so sure right now because you have been rejected by established writers and publishers alike? Well, read this article in Daily Monitor by Kamau Mutunga ; it’s about Chimamanda’s initial rejection by publishers. Hope it inspires you to hold on to your dream!
Africa’s best literary flower
What a good turn of events that, today, the literary daughter of Chinua Achebe is an award-winning novelist, an accomplished author whom Achebe lauds as ‘a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers… she came almost fully made’!
Sample this paragraph from Purple Hibiscus, her debut effort in 2003: “He looked like a stuffed doll, and because he was always smiling, the deep dimples in his pillowy cheeks looked like permanent fixtures, as though someone had sunk a stick into his cheeks.”
When she first presented the manuscript, one American agent piped: “I like your book. I like your writing, but I can’t sell you as ethnic, because right now, ethnic is Indian.”
Another told her that she should set Purple Hibiscus — the story of the painful awakening of a girl coming of age — in America and relegate the African bits into the background.
In an interview with Insight Africa on CNN in September last year, Adichie recalled how another Western literary agent said her book didn’t feel “authentically African” as the characters drove cars and watched TV. “They are not eating human flesh and jumping around a fire, it can’t be the real Africa.”
Nonetheless, Purple Hibiscus went on to be short-listed for the Orange and Man Booker prizes, and won the 33-year-old alumni of Drexel and Eastern Connecticut State Universities, the Common Wealth Writers Prize.