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Chimimanda Adichie reveals writing struggles post-childbirth

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award winning Nigerian author, has revealed in a BBC Woman’s Hour interview that she struggled with writing after the birth of her daughter in 2016.

According to MailOnline, the 46-year-old Americanah writer, who is married to Ivara Esege, a Nigerian medical doctor, and gave birth to a daughter nearly eight years ago, said that she’d struggled to find her ‘fictional space’ after giving birth and had battled constipation and aching joints during pregnancy.

“Becoming a mother is a glorious gift, but it comes at a cost. I could probably have written two novels had I not had my child,” Adichie said.

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According to reports, she told BBC that she hoped the experience of raising a child would now ‘feed her fiction’ but that she had found it hard to pen novels in recent years. “I felt as though my brain had been wrapped in gauze. So, my brain didn’t work for a long time. And just more creatively, I think I am making my way back because I’m working on a novel finally,” She said.

Speaking about the realities of pregnancy and childbirth, Adichie said that she had been left ‘horrified at the constipation, and achy joints. She added that there is a violence that comes with childbirth. “We are sort of reduced to our animal selves,” she said.

Speaking to The Times 2 Magazine after the criticism, she said: ‘I will say what I think and often there are consequences, and I’m willing to accept those consequences.’

Last year, the author faced criticism for being labelled ‘transphobic’ on social media and subsequently spoke out against Cancel Culture. Despite being a supporter of transwomen and a vocal advocate for LGBT rights in Nigeria, the author was accused of ‘transphobia’ by fellow Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi, who is non-binary. The author expressed her belief that certain social media platforms have fostered an environment where people are quick to anger.

In response to the backlash, the author penned an essay titled ‘It is Obscene’ last year. In this essay, she accused the online critics of being afraid of holding differing opinions. She argued that many individuals on social media appear hypocritical, preaching about kindness but failing to practise it themselves. She noted that some people seem emotionally detached online and are more focused on conforming to prevailing ideologies than embracing the messy complexities of human stories in literature.

The author also criticised those who wield terms like ‘violence’ and ‘weaponize’ as if they were blunt instruments. She lamented that the younger generation on social media often fears expressing divergent opinions to the point of hindering their own personal growth and learning.

Read also: Chimamanda Adichie calls U.S. two-faced for endorsing Nigeria 2023 election

The motivation behind writing the essay, as mentioned in a December interview with the BBC, was a particularly hurtful incident where her parents were targeted online. Her father, James Nwoye Adichie, passed away in the summer of 2020 due to kidney failure, and her mother, Grace Ifeoma Adichie, unexpectedly passed away in March 2021. The author revealed that her nephew informed her of people online celebrating her parents’ deaths as punishment for her refusal to assert that trans women are women.

Adichie acknowledged that she doesn’t consider herself ‘brave’ for speaking out on important issues, but she remains committed to voicing her concerns on topics she holds dear.

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