My Take on Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Lover - The Books I Bought from the Strand Book Store showing Purple Hibiscus

Firstly, what is Purple Hibiscus?

Purple Hibiscus is the award-winning novel written by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and released in 2003. It tells the story of a girl, Kambili Achike, born as the daughter of the wealthy Igbo man, Eugene Achike – a religious man whose convictions often cross the border from decency and depart into the complex realm of zealotry and domestic abuse.

Purple Hibiscus cover
Cover of Purple Hibiscus

The family of Kambili, including her brother and mother, live a life based on a strict schedule determined by the dictatorial Eugene. Ironically, Eugene is more liberal in his political views – supporting democracy – while showing the greatest of generosity to those who are not his family. He is also a man who idealises the practices of European people. But, at home, he is a completely different man who demands much of his family while giving no real kindness in return. It gets more complex when Kambili’s strict lifestyle is disrupted by the discordant Aunt Ifeoma (Eugene’s sister). From there, the situation deteriorates and Kambili is torn between her father, her beliefs, her love and her desires.

What did I think of it?

I absolutely loved Purple Hibiscus! It is definitely one of the greatest books I have ever read. Adichie does an excellent job at conveying the myriad of political views, religious views, and emotions that encompass this book, leaving the reader unsure of whether they feel sorry for Eugene’s deterioration or whether they rejoice at it. In a way, this reflects Kambili’s own emotions – too scared, and enamoured of her father to resist him yet defiant enough that his retribution at her disobedience lands her in the hospital. Her admiration for her father’s values and behaviours slowly become a criticism of his dark actions – yet all the while preserving her love for him.

Adichie further contrasts Kambili’s defiance to her brother Jaja’s defiance which is both more strong and more offensive. She wonderfully symbolises this loss of innocence through the growth of purple hibiscus in their garden full of red hibiscus. Furthermore, the book is full of stark contrasts between rich and poor, Christian and heathen, man and woman, and subservience and insubordination. In doing so, she marvellously captures the essence of Igbo culture in a post-colonial Africa.

I would definitely give it five stars!

If you are looking for a thought-provoking, enticing, slow and yet somehow exhilarating read, this is possibly one of the best you will ever find!

Book Lover’s Paradise – New York City!

Beautiful Morning View of Manhattan - Book Lover's Paradise

Book Lover’s, this is for you! So, in my last post, I promised to follow up with exactly what inspired me to reinvent my persona as an author. Here it is:

New York City – The Book Lover’s Paradise!

In my last post, I mentioned my visit to the USA. Specifically, I mentioned my visit to the Strand Book Store and the New York Public Library. This was my experience! I first went to the Strand Book Store. Doesn’t this image just perfectly espouse what you would feel? Well, it is certainly what I felt when I walked into the Strand Book Store.

When a Book Lover enters a bookstore - Elsa
When I enter a bookstore

Except, I was not the confident book lover, declaring my intention to revel in the mysteries concealed in the winding bookshelves. Instead, I walked in meekly, dwarfed by the awesome and gargantuan scale of the Strand. The Strand Book Store proclaims to be home to over 18 miles of books. After visiting it, I can confidently say that they are right!

So how did it really change my perspective?

From book lover to aspiring novelist

Well, as any author will say, I have always aspired to be a published writer. So, after having published what I consider to be two sub-standard non-fiction works, I was complacent, even confident, that I had achieved my goals.

Book Lover - The Books I Bought from the Strand Book Store
The Books I Bought from the Strand Book Store
Book Lover - The Strand Bag and Books, 18 miles of books
Notice the meaningful tagline…18 miles of books

However, after visiting the Strand, and walking between the shelves stacked with the most illustrious and unknown of novelists, I knew that I had to join their ranks. I could not stay on as the little-known writer of historical non-fiction. To be a true author, I affirmed myself, I would have to learn to forge characters, conflict, and controversy in the most intricate of prose – mastering the art of storytelling and influencing readers all at the same time. Only after such a monumental piece, one that would be fit for the Strand, would I call myself an author. I wanted another person, one day in the future, to walk amongst those shelves and to consider my book as sacred and as entertaining as any other.

Apart from that

My visit to the other book lover’s haven

I bought the four books that you saw in the image! I will soon write my thoughts on one of them. But, I had spent over two hours in the bookstore after resolving to only spend an hour there. I also spent over $70 after resolving to spend only $20, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped, could it?

By then, it was dark when I made my way to the New York Public Library. This was just as exciting as the Strand, although I did not get to read. The art, the architecture, the furnishings and the atmosphere all create the perfect ambience in which to read the world’s best works of art. If you ever visit New York, you must go there!

So, where did it all leave me?

The whole experience in the USA (if you missed the previous blog post check it out here) was enlightening, to say the least. I met many new people, got many new ideas and inspirations, and I resolved to make the biggest decision of my career – to erase it and start all over again. I got valuable relationships, valuable memories, and most importantly, valuable reads out of the trip. The verdict: you can keep an eye out for my novel, which will be submitted to the Strand Book Store as soon as possible, and if you can – authors and readers – travel, because it will truly change your life! I certainly can’t wait to do it again!

Hello Literary World – My Rebirth as an Author!

New York Public Library

Greetings to all readers out there!

Here is my literary rebirth!

I have decided to reinvent my literary identity, my career, and, perhaps most importantly, my literature itself. To mark the good progress that I have made on my novel in the works – The Monk’s Curse – I am unpublishing all my previous works, have recreated my entire website, created a new website for the book here (you can visit it but it’s not done yet).

First of all: The Monk’s Curse

The new literary journey

Literary Reinvention - The Monk's Curse Banner
The Monk’s Curse Banner

One of the things that have sparked this reinvention was the conception of The Monk’s Curse. I can’t say much about it, but I describe it as the riveting story of a boy, a prophecy, and a monk. It’s a story where East meets West and the Islamic Caliphate meets Christendom. Oh no, I have said too much! What I can say is that while writing this novel I have made up the most outrageous of fake histories, the evilest and naive of characters and the most scholarly prose. You won’t find too many action scenes in this novel. It is a political masterpiece with constant machinations going on behind the scenes. If you are anyhow interested in scholarly and political mysteries, keep your eye out for this book.

Finally: What has really led to this surge of inspiration and departure from normalcy?

What drove me to abandon my previous books and literary journey to start all over again?

It was a wonderful trip to the United States in the December of 2016. Meant to be an exploration of the place in which I will one day pursue medical studies, I turned it into an awesome experience of winter, museums, books, and a family Christmas.

Okay, so we don’t get white Christmases here in South Africa. So, I went to New York City in the hopes of seeing a white Christmas. I didn’t get that. Instead, I saw the marvellous Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and Times Square. Also, I spent a wonderful Christmas with family in Houston, Texas. Christmas is certainly not such a big affair where I come from. So, the lights, festivities, elaborate meals, and gift giving were a pleasant surprise.

Saturn V Rocket at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston
Saturn V Rocket at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston
View of Manhattan from over the Hudson at night
View of Manhattan from over the Hudson at night
The American Museum of Natural History in Upper Manhattan
The American Museum of Natural History in Upper Manhattan

The pictures just show some of my experiences and can hardly do justice to any of them. All I can say was that my trip to the USA was definitely inspiring enough to get me start writing my novel – I am now halfway through.

But what really affected me!

My greatest experience in the USA was that of my visits to the New York Public Library (see picture above) and the Strand Book Store. Evidently, my literary experiences stood out. I didn’t take any pictures of Strand, of which any book lover will know, but in my defence, I was too awestruck by the sheer decadence (is there a better word?) of the place. Be sure to get my thoughts on it in my next post!

Finally

I hope you have enjoyed what you have read so far, but trust me, if you are a bibliophile, it is only the beginning. See my next post for a whole lot of book recommendations and my experience in the largest bookstore I have ever been to!