Celebrated Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had a baby. There was no press statement, no Instagram announcement, not even a tweet. Instead, the news came via an interview with the Financial Times’ “Lunch with the FT” series (paywall), during which the author orders a syrupy sweet mocktail because she is breastfeeding.
It takes journalist David Pilling a second or two to realize that he’s been handed a scoop. Adichie admits that perhaps she has some friends who don’t even know she has become a mother. The 38-year-old has become one of the most prominent voices on feminism today, and her journey into parenthood is likely to become a topic of debate, just as it did for prize-winning authors Zadie Smith and Jane Smiley (but hardly ever for male authors). But it’s her business, and Adichie reminds us of that.
“I just feel like we live in an age when women are supposed to perform pregnancy,” Adichie tells Pilling. “We don’t expect fathers to perform fatherhood. I went into hiding. I wanted it to be as personal as possible.”
“Can I ask the baby’s name?” ventures Pilling.
“‘No, I won’t say,’ she says with a disarming smile,” he describes her response. And with that there is no more baby talk.
The interview returns to discussions of modern Nigeria’s great potential and withering disappointments and the complexities of race in the United States after Barack Obama’s presidency. Just as she does in her lauded books, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, Adichie handles the topics with originality and intelligence, and the mischief her readers have come to know. If only Pilling would spend less time on the one British ex-pat character Adichie has featured in Half of a Yellow Sun.
There is a mention of the stylish writer’s red shoes, done with permission and caution. Adichie has spoken and written on why we should all be feminists, but also the temporary transformational powers of a good lipstick. After all, make-up does not weaken a woman’s dedication to equality and feminist values, nor does it hide gender injustice.
Adichie is a wife, a self-confessed daddy’s girl and now mother to a baby girl. But she is also the recipient of a string of awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, and the author whose talent was singled out by Africa’s literary giant, the late Chinua Achebe.
Congratulations—for everything—Ms Adichie.