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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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2,3891152,612 (4.01)1 / 466
Title:Purple Hibiscus
Authors:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Info:HARPER PERENNIAL (2008), Paperback, 307 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library
Tags:Acquired in 2009/earlier, @2011

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)


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English (107)  Finnish (3)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Fabulous ( )
  ibkennedy | Jul 23, 2016 |
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way. I have yet to read anything of hers that doesn't strike me right to the heart. I don't really have much else to say. In my eyes, she can do no wrong. ( )
  BuffyBarber | Jun 5, 2016 |
Tough book to read - domestic violence, religious fanaticism, tribal customs, military coups, and class disparities. Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s father is a religious zealot who beats his wife and children mercilessly for being sinful or disobedient and causes his wife to suffer countless miscarriages. Meanwhile, he pays for poor children's education, helps his workers survive rough times, and speaks out against the dictatorship. The abuse and domestic violence in the name of religion is extremely disturbing but we never learn why he’s such a fanatic. The story is compelling but Adiche’s writing feels a bit sophomoric, maybe because this was her first book. It reads like a YA novel and is in fact used widely with accompanying study guides in schools. It also felt very slow in parts, with the abusive household scenes dragging on, but almost lacking in emotion. Adiche could have given us more insight into how each person felt and what they wanted in life. But then, the abrupt ending happens with an unexpected outburst of rage and revenge that feels contrived given the character development throughout the story. A small pet peeve: the use of Igbo words and phrases throughout the book was distracting and didn’t really serve a purpose. ( )
  sushitori | Jun 4, 2016 |
Η Αφρική από μια διαφορετική ματιά από αυτή που έχ​ουμε συνηθίσει να βλέπουμε ή να αδιαφορούμε επιδει​κτικά. Ένα πανέμορφο μυθιστόρημα!​ ( )
  GeorgiaKo | May 27, 2016 |
Purple Hibiscus is the tale of a shy Igbo teenage girl and her relationships with an abusive father, an extended family, and the church during a time of military dictatorship in Nigeria. It is a complex weave of characters, most of whom have several layers resulting in a fascinating study of people. It is a well written and flowing book. The depictions of place are powerful, backed up by the occasional use of igbo vocabulary ro reinforce the location.

The narrator of the tale is Kambili, a painfully shy girl learning to adapt to a changing world around her. Kambili's world is the Igbo south-west of Nigeria - sometimes known as Biafra. It is from this place and the cities of Enugu and Nsukka that Kambili's life changes. Like several of the prominent characters she is a careful study in West African influences. Kambili is a devout catholic like the rest of her family, a hard working girl who achieves high grades in school. She is the daughter of a Big Man. She is also afraid of social situations and torn between what she is taught is right and what she sees to be right.

The tension inherent within Kambili is presumably partly inherent but is largely her environment. In particular her parents are models for the behaviour she represents. Her father Eugene is a pious and generous pillar of the community. He is also a brutally strict adherent to an absolute moral code that combines Christian piety with West African beligerance. Kambili's mother adheres to the code even at the cost of the violence her husband inflicts upon her. She is generally quiet and compliant, the model Kambili seems to be following.

The charactersiation is impressive because it seems so accurate. It is so believable to have Kambili's father be a hero to others for his criticism of the military junta and his support for people in his community yet still be so savage in his relationship with his close family. It is probably a character only a West African could write but it is great to read.

What makes it a great character to read is the loss of control the father experiences. He loses control over his children through his own extreme views. His extremism means he cannot accept his own father who never converted to Christianity. That the grandfather still believes in a traditional animistic faith is deemed abhorrent. The grandfather though is sweet and kind, not any kind of monster. The difference between the description of the pagan and the reality is what changes Kambili and her brother Jaja.

When Kambili and Jaja are out of the immediate clutches of Eugene they learn more about the world. In particular they learn from Aunty Ifeoma. She is something of a paragon and her character does not have the layers of the others but she is the voice of reason, the academic who supports her own Catholic faith but is worldy-wise enough to be able to analyse things such as her brother's abusive behaviour.

Ifeoma is relatively poor compared to Eugene though in reality she would still be much better off than most Igbos. Ifeoma does not have the trappings Eugene has acquired such as domestic staff, a second home, and good food all year round. Ifeoma lives more humbly in a small house provided by the university.

The university is under severe pressure throughout the novel. Students riot both against the military government and for less noble causes such as acquiring exam papers in advance. The student body is seemingly something to fear.

Kambili opens up while with Aunty Ifeoma, in particular opening up to her cousin Amaka. Amaka is hostile to Kambili at first but the two warm up together as Kambili finally lets out the thoughts she had previously kept inside her head.

Kambili also opens up to the priest, Father Amadi. This is an extremely gentle form of sexual exploration. Amadi is a Catholic priest and therefore not available to Kambili. Her admiration for him pours out of the book but it never takes any real form as this is just the earliest hint of the flowering suggested by the title and cover. The gentle non-courtship is mostly told through Kambili's inner thoughts.

The Igbo nature of this work is clear from the characters and the place. The correction of the English-reader midway through the book with a clear description of how to pronounce Kambili is spot on. However, it is not explicitly a tale about the times of these people as the interaction with security forces largely takes place in the background such as with the character Ade Coker whom the reader barely sees.

Along with the novel itself there are a few pages at the back of the work containing description of the author and her influences as well as a very short story.

Purple Hibiscus is an impressive character study. It is harsh at times because the people involved are sometimes harsh. The characters are deep and layered. The plot is not especially ambitious and the launch of Kambili towards adulthood is perhaps too gentle when set against the much harder characters around her. ( )
  Malarchy | May 11, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Professor James Nwoye Adichie and Mrs. Grace Ifeoma Adichie, my parents, my heroes, ndi o ga-adili mma
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Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0007189885, Paperback)

Purple Hibiscus, Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut, begins like many novels set in regions considered exotic by the western reader: the politics, climate, social customs, and, above all, food of Nigeria (balls of fufu rolled between the fingers, okpa bought from roadside vendors) unfold like the purple hibiscus of the title, rare and fascinating. But within a few pages, these details, however vividly rendered, melt into the background of a larger, more compelling story of a joyless family. Fifteen-year-old Kambili is the dutiful and self-effacing daughter of a rich man, a religious fanatic and domestic tyrant whose public image is of a politically courageous newspaper publisher and philanthropist. No one in Papa's ancestral village, where he is titled "Omelora" (One Who Does For the Community), knows why Kambili¹s brother cannot move one of his fingers, nor why her mother keeps losing her pregnancies. When a widowed aunt takes an interest in Kambili, her family begins to unravel and re-form itself in unpredictable ways. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:32 -0400)

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In the city of Egunu, Nigeria, fifteen year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a somewhat cloistered life. Their father is a wealthy businessman, they live in a beautiful home, and attend private school. But, through Kambili's eyes, we see that their home life is anything but harmonious. Her father, a fanatically religious man has impossible expectations of his children and his wife, and if things don't go his way he becomes physically abusive. Not until Kambili and Jaja are sent away from home for the very first time to visit their loving aunt, does Kambili's world begin to blossom. But when a military coup threatens to destroy the country, the tension in her family's home escalates, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.… (more)

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