Purple Hibiscus (Collins Readers) Hardcover – 22 February 2010
'A beautiful and often harrowing story.'
Observer Books of the Year
‘A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state.’ J. M. Coetzee
‘Political brutality and domestic violence, religion and witchcraft all merge with subtle force in this memorable novel. Chimammanda Ngozi Adichie uses childhood innocence to write Nigerian history with the eye of a family insider.’
‘Purple Hibiscus is the best debut I've read since Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things.’
Jason Cowley, Times journalist, literary editor of the New Statesman
‘This debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory…in soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood.’
About the Author
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Purple Hibiscus, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction; and acclaimed story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Americanah, was published around the world in 2013, received numerous awards and was named one of New York Times Ten Books of the Year. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
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- Publisher : Collins Educational (22 February 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007345321
- ISBN-13 : 978-0007345328
- Reading age : 13 - 16 years
- Item Weight : 390 g
- Dimensions : 8.89 x 2.54 x 13.97 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #387,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award winning Nigerian author, has penned an immensely absorbing family drama in her literary fiction novel, Purple Hibiscus where the author weaves the tale of a young Nigerian girl who belongs from a very rich and affluent family where the father of the family is a religious fanatic and used to torture his wife, his daughter and his son in the name of Christ if they commit a slight mistake, but when the young girl goes to live with her aunt during the military coup invasion, she learns ugly secrets about her not so perfectly religious family.
Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.
Kambili, a fifteen year old girl, lives under constant fear of her religiously fanatic father who is an ardent Catholic man and owner of some factories as well as contributes for a newspaper where he freely expresses his opinion about politics and the country. Kambili and her elder brother, Jaja and her mother live in a palatial mansion but their lives and happiness are dominated by the man who is a strong believer of rules laced with religion. So if Kambili or Jaja or her mother makes even a slight mistake, they are punished physically to repent and to learn a lesson about making mistakes. But pretty soon, Nigeria falls under the rule of a military coup where political scandals, corruption, poverty and public execution became a common affair, and Kambili's father, who is an influential and affluent man in the society, sends away his kids to his sister's house, who lives inside an university campus, in a different town. In her aunt's house, where her children laugh out heartily and the household is always happy even though they are very poor, Kambili realizes the real definition of freedom and also tastes it along with her brother. But is it easy to escape from her father's wrath who pushes her down as well as denies from any freedom of childhood happiness to his own children?
This is the very first time that I grabbed my hands on an Adichie novel and that too her debut book which bagged quite a lot of literary awards. Although unfortunately, the story is not that remarkable as most reviews say so. Why? Well mainly because of the fact that the author has failed to depict an intimidating man through the narrative of his 15-year old daughter, and also the author's own hometown which is a fractured projection into its deep cores, thereby I failed to visually or mentally form an image of a country dominated by a military coup or its people facing grave troubles because of the coup.
The author's writing style is incredible, eloquent and extremely redolent that readers will grab the readers with its flair right from the very start. The narrative is extremely sorrowful as the author strikingly captures the pain and the longing for a free childhood through a fifteen year old girl's voice, that the readers will find it easy to comprehend with even though the narrative has so many layers within. The pacing is moderate, as the author unravels the story through dimension and underlying stories of a country falling apart besides the story of a young girl and her family.
As already mentioned before, the author's portrayal of Nigeria is really vivid, yet it is projected through fractures thereby stopping the readers to recreate the complete portrait of Nigeria. Apart from that, the author strongly depicts the then corruption, riots, denial from basic amenities like water to the common people, public execution, scandals when Nigeria came under the rule of a military coup that set a fear into the hearts of its countrymen. The dusty roads, the mass, the churches, the garden in Kambili's mansion, the rare purple hibiscus, the people, the language, the food and the culture, all these aspects are vividly captured that will let the readers to take a peek into the heart of Nigeria.
The characters from this book are well developed, especially the central character and the protagonist of the book, Kambili, who is drawn with enough realism to make the readers connect with her simple yet fearful demeanor. Although there is not much evolution into her demeanor, but somehow she learns to enjoy the basic happiness that a teenager must experience while she goes away from her home, and later that makes her a mature woman. Her sadness will deeply move the readers as she narrates her cry for freedom from her dominating and torturing father. The rest of the supporting characters are also well etched out but fails to leave a mark into the minds of the readers. And also the author failed to make the readers grasp the mentality of a strong and rich Catholic family man and his ideals.
In a nutshell, this enduring story is not only poignant but thoroughly enlightening that will make the readers lose themselves into the world of a fifteen year old Nigerian girl whose only wish is freedom for herself, for her brother and mother as well as for her own country.
She almost losts what a life has to offer her apart from a good education that too put inhumane pressure to top the class until one day her aunt comes as a rescue. She unfolds a rather simple, flexible atmosphere full of fun and laughter. Where free air blows with no restrictions and inhibitions . She doesn't need to feel reluctant to air her views and thoughts.
It is a story of ruthless ,repressive patriarchy ,Nigerian culture and religious practices, political turmoil and corruption yet at the same time beautifully woven romantic thoughts of a teenage girl.
The story is set in post colonial Nigeria beset in a turmoil of political instability and economic crisis. Kambili, a fifteen year old, is the protagonist of the story who is born into a wealthy family and who lived her childhood under the dominance of her tyrant father, Eugene. Eugene is a devout Catholic, rather a religious fanatic. Kambili and her brother's childhood was spent doing things that would make their father proud and happy. Kambili never had her own thoughts or opinions. She did everything as per the schedule set by her father. Though from an affluent family, the kids never tasted freedom until they go to stay with their father's sister and kids in another town. A sister who is liberal unlike their father. Their cousins had opinions unlike them. They had the capability to argue unlike them. Kambili always wondered how her father would take such behaviour and shuddered. Even smallest of their mistakes, which were considered sins, were liable for punishments by their father. They were burnt, their fingers brutally broken, they were beaten until they collapsed. But despite all this Kambili loved her father because that is how she was brought up. These punishments were not considered punishments by the child. For her, it was a normal thing as her father had always made them believe that it was because of their sins they were punished. He hit them brutally then at the second moment would hug them and cry, not because he punished but because they sinned. The father character is portrayed with lot of complexities in the book. He is a religious fanatic, a tyrant, somebody who has disowned his own father for not converting to the faith he believed. He even stops his kids from seeing their grandfather as he followed pagan rituals and so was considered a heathen. However, he selflessly did charity; he fought for truth.
Like Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, this book too shows how the West deceitfully played with the innocence of the people just to rule them. They rebuked the pagan culture and converted the people of Africa, calling their Gods heathen, their rituals and beliefs superstitious, their colour and race deceitful. Few people like Eugene, Kambili's father, were so anglicized that they only believed in everything White and English. Their Igbo language was detested. They were rebuffed from having their kind of names while confirmation in the church.
All in all, it's a lovely book written in an effective and simple language with a ruthlessly hard-hitting storyline. I lived through it with the protagonist. 😊