Thursday night was one of the best literary nights of my life. I’ve never been one to attend a multitude of author events, but when Beth over at Too Fond alerted me to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Decatur appearance, I jumped quickly on the chance to go. I roped one of my fabulous book club ladies, Emily, into going with me and things were all set.
Thursday arrived with wet skies and horrific Atlanta traffic. It took me 3x as long to get anywhere which had me majorly stressed because I was convinced I’d miss the 7 pm start time and then be banned from entering or some such nonsense. Luckily, I got to the First Baptist Church of Decatur right at 7, and we found good seats in the balcony. As with most First Baptist Churches in the South, the place was enormous, but I was so pleased to see the main sanctuary filled in its entirety with eager fans awaiting Ms. Adichie.
And we were not let down! She was amazing. Smart, clever, articulate, funny, and utterly charming. She started the evening off by reading the first few pages of Americanah (which you MUST read if you haven’t already), and I was sad to discover she doesn’t read her own audio because she’s a superb narrator. Next, she opened the event to questions from the audience. I’m terrified of public speaking so there was no way I could ask someone I admire so greatly a question in front of 200+ people, but others definitely didn’t have that problem and quickly lined up.
Questions ranged from specifically asking about characters and situations in Americanah to Ms. Adichie’s own personal experiences as a Nigerian living in and getting to know America. Others asked about her writing process, her literary heroes, or just took a moment to thank her profusely for her writing and leadership. Several mentions of her TED Talk and the Beyonce song were discussed, as well. She handled each question with depth, poise, and humor. What I liked most about her answers were how unrehearsed they felt. She wasn’t reciting something she’d said a million times before. She’d go off on tangents or tell little anecdotes that came to mind. Sometimes she’d simply say she didn’t know the answer to a particular question!
The last question came from a young boy (no older than 6 or 7) who boldly told Ms. Adichie that he, too, was a writer and wondered if she thought in great detail about what she was going to write ahead of time or whether she sat down and just kept writing. She smiled at him and said: Just keep writing.
After the talk, we queued up for the book signing. Emily and I were in the back of the line. We ended up waiting around 1.5 hours to meet her, but she graciously stayed and signed until after 10 pm. She personalized every book and spent tons of time speaking to African women’s groups, book clubs, and college classes who massed around her table with additional questions.
It’s a night I won’t forget anytime soon. So excited to read Half of a Yellow Sun with my book club and to continue reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as long as she cares to keep writing.
P.S. On a completely shallow note, I just have to briefly mention that she’s one of the most gorgeous people I’ve ever met in real life. My girl crush is definitely showing!!
Unofficial post sponsor: Georgia Center for the Book