Correspondent: I have to ask you about the fact that every character in this book is sleeping with somebody else.
Correspondent: And there is no monogamous marriage exemplar in any of the characters, in any of the major characters. This struck me as kind of interesting. It’s a very sensual book, certainly. But it’s not just that. It seemed to sort of suggest to me that one could not be loyal in one’s relationship; therefore, one could not be loyal to any of these causes that were actually occurring in Nigeria at the time. I was wondering if you could, sort of, describe how the relationship and the loyalty in the relationship, or the presumed loyalty, depending upon what sort of arrangement you have…
Correspondent: And how you got permission. But that’s a whole ‘nother side track. Sorry! I’ll shut up. Go for it.
Adichie: Okay, now, that’s really interesting. I’ll have to think about that. The parallel between the relationship and the cause, I don’t know. I think what I wanted to do with that was simply to say human beings are flawed, were hopelessly flawed, and also in some ways to — so my parents were telling me these stories about the war and often I would be thinking, wondering how much it changed their relationship. And when I would ask people questions or read things about the war, and there’s a lot of people sleeping with each other, as there is everywhere I think, it made me wonder about how relationships changed. When you have a relationship and everyone’s happy and your life is comfortably middle-class, and you’re sort of having cucumber sandwiches. And then suddenly, you’re reduced to this place where you are thinking about eating lizards. It has to do something to the way you have sex! You know? That’s what I’m thinking.
Adichie: And I guess also just to show the ability to forgive. How in war, horrible things are happening, but then you’re finding yourself forgiving the person you love, who’s hurt you, who’s betrayed you. You know? And I sort of saw them as — it’s difficult for them to be loyal to one another, because the struggle to be be loyal to this big thing, this cause, this faith in something bigger than they are, and I think there’s a part of me that’s hopelessly romantic. And I just love the idea of believing in something. You know, standing up for something. And we don’t have that in Nigeria anymore. And it depresses me.
The whole of this interview with Chimamanda Adichie will appear very soon on The Bat Segundo Show.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.