Through a series of beautifully observed novels that deftly map the fractures of the contemporary world – Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah – Adichie has become one of the most eloquent voices of anglophone Africa. She has also become a fierce protagonist in debates over racism, feminism and free speech.
Much of Adichie’s work wrestles with questions of identity in a globalised world and, in particular, what it means to be black and to be a woman. In a world of contested identities, this has inevitably drawn her into a number of controversies, most notably with trans activists. Last week, she published a three-part essay entitled It Is Obscene, which went viral, picked up by newspapers across the world. The essay is both a passionate defence of herself against her critics and a blistering polemical reflection on the state of public debate today.
I actually read this thing, It Is Obscene. And, well, I thought it terribly weak, very lily livered, and I desperately wanted the writer to come out and say what they were actually bothered about.
No, I don’t mean in my sense of a resort of Anglo Saxonisms. Rather, well, OK, but what’s the beef? Can you please be clear about this?
Then again, I clearly don’t write literature and there might well be that interesting reason why I don’t read it either. Which is that it keeps striking me as being very weak, entirely lily livered.