Chimamanda Adichie’s third novel Americanah took top fiction honors at tonight’s National Book Critics Circle Award, beating out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch which has been a near-unanimous hit, dominating most “Best of 2013” lists. Adichie’s book, which examined race from the perspective of a Nigerian hair blogger, also edged out Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being which also earned a spot on the Man Booker shortlist, Alice McDermott’s Someone, and Javier Marias’s The Infatuations. Americanah is also up for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction.
Though pop-culture enthusiasts may have firtst become aware of Adichie when Beyonce sampled her TEDx speech on her much-debated 2013 track “***Flawless”, the Nigerian author has commanded literary attentions since her debut. Publishers Weekly called her 2003 novel Purple Hibiscus “lush, cadenced…accomplished”, and it was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (now the Baileys Prize).
Her sophomore effort, 2007’s Half of a Yellow Sun earned the the Orange, and has been adapted into a feature film starring Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, and Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose set for release later this year. Adichie’s 2009 short-story collection The Thing Around Your Neck was also well received.
The winners in all other competitive categories are:
Amy Wilentz’s Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A letter from Haiti
Leo Damrosch’s Jonathan Swift: His life and his world
Franco Moretti’s Distant Reading
Sherri Fink, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a storm-ravaged hospital
Frank Bidart’s Metaphysical Dog
Visit Bookcritics.org for more details.