Modern literature

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.

23 thoughts on “Modern literature”

  1. akwaeke emezi
    5 Jan
    I trust that there are other people who will pick up machetes to protect us from the harm transphobes like Adichie & Rowling seek to perpetuate.

    This charming post is nearly 6 months old so @Jack apparently sees nothing wrong with encouraging people to attack unbelievers with machetes.

  2. Are you sure you read the whole thing, Tim? I’ve seen some people circulate an abbreviated version. She’s pretty clear what it’s about (being used and abused by one of her woke students)

    I thought it was well written, sometimes beautifully so. But like a lot of feminists she is apparently oblivious to the straight line of causation between her own, formerly trendy, Gen X progressivism and the ravening hordes of Wocusts now devouring her reputation on antisocial media.

    I’m sure some WW2 vintage Chinee communists were SUPLISED to find themselves being redguarded an all.

  3. Be interesting to know. She’s obviously well received in certain literary circles. But does anyone actually buy & read her books? Would you be likely to see one in the paperback carousel at the airport as you head out to the Costa del Fortuna? And if so, would it be coming back in the luggage?
    It never ceases to surprise me how many works by supposedly influential authors you find in charity shops. Often in pristine condition. You could purchase the entire oeuvre & get change out of a tenner.

  4. My local cat charity is on 3 volumes for €1. Which means you can get the entire Dick Francis for a tenner, let alone some slow literary type.

  5. She is a terrific writer – check out her short stories “The Thing Around Your Neck” if you want to see for yourselves. Wouldn’t necessarily agree with all her opinions but she is a story teller first and foremost, not a polemicist. And no magical realism, thank Gawd.

  6. AFAICT from my very limited contact with it, all ‘magical realism’ is just very, very bad SciFi, with plots that were already done to death in the golden age. I actually prefer Harry Potter.

  7. I read It Is Obscene and found it quite moving.

    Of course, it’s completely hilarious watching the trannies get their arses handed to them. What the fuck were they thinking, baiting the most brilliant* female authors of our generation? First JKR and now Adichie: there was only ever going to be one result.

    * OK, OK, debatable for sure, but you know what I mean.

  8. What about the disgraceful book by the PM called 72 virgins.
    There was antisemitism, the n-word, misogyny in the book.
    Boris Johnson wrote the novel Seventy Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors, using the n word and racial stereotypes in passages.

    In the text, he referred to Jewish oligarchs as controlling the media, he mentioned “hook nosed” Arabs, and referred to a “half-caste” person.

    In another quote the PM also referred .

    He described working class men are criminal and hopeless in 1995.
    During his time as editor of right-wing political magazine the Spectator, he wrote: “The modern British male is useless.

    “If he is blue collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment.”
    Wow, that shows what he thinks of working class people.

    He also wrote in a 1995 column for The Spectator, he wrote that single mothers were “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.

    Boris Johnson does not have a high regard for British working class people.

  9. What about the disgraceful book by the PM called 72 virgins.
    There was antisemitism, the n-word, misogyny in the book.

    Lol. Can we elect that guy, instead of the big fat pussy we have in Downing Street now?

  10. Steve – Racism, homophobia and hatred of the working class is a sick evil thing to do.

  11. ‘Lol. Can we elect that guy, instead of the big fat pussy we have in Downing Street now?’

    Thanks Steve. I was wondering how to express my feelings. Then you went ahead and did it for me.

  12. The far right see the working class as parasites and criminals.
    Boris is a typical far right PM. A populist nationalist who secretly despises the British working class.
    Only an oaf would fall for his lying propaganda.

  13. “The far right see the working class as parasites and criminals.”

    Lol. If you knew anything about the working classes you’d know thats where the far right (or what the left call the far right) come from. The blokes following Tommy Robinson (not that he’s really that far right but lets go with what the left call him) are not middle class university students with sociology degrees. They’re plasterers, van drivers and blokes who work in warehouses. Whereas those on BLM and XR protests are more likely to have a trust fund and parents living in the leafy suburbs.

  14. Jim, I went to to university and there were plenty of racists and bullies at my university. I also knew plenty of non-racist working class people. You are just talking cliched stereotypes fed by I do not know what. Your defence of the far right is the same thing said about football hooligans and school bullies. That they are all working class. When loads of them are educated evil people.
    I can assure you anyone who supports the far right, will also hate the working class and the poor. A class traitor will back the abuse and exploitation of his own people.

  15. The Meissen Bison

    Rosslyn Morgan – thanks for bringing a smile on a dull Sunday afternoon and evening.

    The far right see the working class as parasites and criminals

    I think that your problem here may be that you define as “working class” those people whose handwriting isn’t as neat as yours and the “far right” as people whose education has been less enlightened than your own.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ Jim, I went to to university ”

    And thanks to Blair that is now a meaningless statement. It may have been shorthand for intelligence and academic rigour and at least earned some respect at one time, but now it just means a continuation of 6th form politics unless qualified by the place, subject studied and honours gained.

  17. Rosslyn – I thught 72 Virgins was a splendid read, as was The Dream of Rome.

    I suspect Boris’s views on the working class are similar to all of the inhabitants of Westminster – Parliament hates the English.

    However they also know that great Orwellian truth – “if there is hope it lies with the Proles”.

    The working class made our country, and the political class across the parties which is leading the country towards its metrosexual carbon neutral destiny are hated for it, and there will be payback.

  18. Well, I doubt he’s all that much against single mothers. He’s created at least two of them in his time.

  19. I see Henry Crun (or as I call him Henry C***) is back. LOL. He needs a brain transplant.

    The Meissen Bison I define the far right as people who hate other races, hate other nations, hate the working class, hate the poor, support genocide, and that want a dictatorship that oppresses human rights.

    Jack the dog If Labour hate the English, then why did they increase spending on health, education, create the mini wage, and tax credits for working families in England?
    Boris has been found out as a hater of the working class End of story.

    I think Boris has had affairs with too many people to be seen as a good bloke. My biggest nightmare would be for someone to sleep with my wife. So I do no respect people who are unfaithful. It is cruel to your partner. Although if people have open relationships, I have no problem with them.

  20. The Meissen Bison I define the far right as people who hate other races, hate other nations, hate the working class, hate the poor, support genocide, and that want a dictatorship that oppresses human rights.

    And can you give a single example of somebody in the UK who fits this definition (outside, possibly, of some extremist mosques)? The trouble with Remainiacs is that they believe their own propaganda, that there can be no rational reason to oppose EU membership, and that therefore anyone who does so must be evil. Boris opposed EU membership therefore Boris is evil. And further only the ‘far right’ can be evil, and therefore Boris must be ‘far right’.

    But to anyone with any political awareness, it’s obvious that Boris has always been, and remains, very much on the left wing of the Conservatives, with the sole exception of his position on EU membership (which isn’t even a left/right divide – if you doubt this, ask yourself what Corbyn’s position might be).

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