88pp., hardback, London, 2021
An essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, written on the sudden death of her father, the scholar James Nwoye Adichie, in Nigeria in 2020.
Expanded from the original text published in the New Yorker.
“This intimate work implores, jerks us out of callousness, moves grief closer ... Notes on Grief lays a path by which we might mourn our individual traumas among the aggregate suffering of this harrowing time. Our guide, Adichie, is uncloaked, full of ‘wretched, roaring rage,’ teaching us how to gather our disparate selves and navigate the still-raging pandemic. In the texture of many of these sentences you can almost feel where the writer has resisted bearing down with her refining tools - language and memory - so as to allow her emotional reality to remain splintered and sharp. Adichie is a consummate world-builder ... Over the course of these 30 fragments, we witness a shift in perspective, an assurance that whatever comes next will never have been created before.” Sarah M. Broom, The New York Times Book Review
"When you send a great writer into the valley of the dead, the reportage is better quality. In 1961 CS Lewis wrote A Grief Observed of the year after the death of his wife; in 2005 Joan Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking about the same time span after the death of her husband. Into this tradition falls Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie … For fans of the famously private Adichie – this is fascinatingly intimate. It is also delivered in the most readable, tender bites for any of the many of us whose attention has been shot by the harrowing of this past year" The Time
“Elegantly spare ... brutally frank ... With raw eloquence, Notes on Grief is both achingly personal and stunningly familiar to anyone who has felt the ‘permanent scattering’ [of grief]. Written and published less than a year after her father’s death, Adichie’s pain on these pages is so palpable that one can almost taste its bitterness. She captures the bewildering messiness of loss in a society that requires serenity, when you’d rather just scream. Grief is impolite . . . Adichie’s words put welcome, authentic voice to this most universal of emotions, which is also one of the most universally avoided.” Leslie Gray Streeter, The Washington Post