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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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2,5681272,338 (4.02)1 / 492
Title:Purple Hibiscus
Authors:Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Info:HARPER PERENNIAL (2008), Paperback, 307 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)


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English (118)  Finnish (3)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All (127)
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amazing book- ( )
  cwbooks | Jun 3, 2017 |
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie achieved greater fame with One Half Of A Yellow Sun. But it was her intense, stark and moving debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, that I picked up first. Purple Hibiscus is set in the African continent, a land in which my interest grows with each passing day. In Enugu, Nigeria, at the beginning of the civil war, we find Jaja and Kambili under the tyrannical rule of their Christian father. The book pulled me in immediately, its atmosphere of fear creating suspense with every tale - I found myself turning the pages with bated breath each time Jaja or Kambili commit even the most minor transgression in their father Eugene's list of 'do not sin' rules. Eugene is a fanatic - bound by strict rules of Christianity - one who does not hesitate to beat his wife into a miscarriage, one who dunks Kambili's feet in boiling hot water. I found that it was easy to hate him. Yet perhaps, that is not Chimamanda's intention. Eugene was, maybe, not a bad man - indeed his entire village looked up to him for his generosity.

Bound to their father, everything changes when they visit their Aunt Ifeoma with her three children. Both Jaja and Kambili are forced to realign their bitterly-held beliefs about the world, so harshly instilled by Eugene. In the background too, we are made aware of the rapidly changing Nigerian world. The military coup, the atmosphere of silence and fear that descends on a country - is in parallel with Eugene as the feared dictator in his own house. As the Purple Hibiscus blooms, (it is a powerful symbol in the novel - introduced as a flower that Jaja grows to love), the lives of both Jaja, Kambili, Mama, and Aunt Ifeoma are transformed through death, and liberation.

Local flavor is rich throughout the novel - it helps to convey Chimamanda's own, unique African voice. And even rarer, a female voice - a perspective that is often missing in the canon of African literature. Purple Hibiscus was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Orange Prize in 2004, and won the Best First Book award in the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Chimamanda is apparently lovingly called agadi nywanyi, by her sister, which means old in Igbo, as the Washington Post reveals in this profile. At 30 though, she is not old but possesses what the Post calls a certain centredness. In Purple Hibiscus, I found that same centredness. Translated again, it becomes wisdom. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
An exceptional book. The ending caught me completely by surprise although I should have seen it coming. Please read ( )
  AidanLangley | Feb 18, 2017 |
Adichie’s novel “Purple Hibiscus” is like her other novels: a close look at family dynamics with a particular focus on women and the conflict of Nigerian traditions versus the influences of the British West. I am a huge fan of Adichie’s work and I love to read the variety of female characters coming to terms with womanhood, life, family, the past, and the future. “Purple Hibiscus” is particularly interesting as it adds a layer of domestic violence and looks at the complicated nature of living with and dealing with violence in the home.

The main protagonist, Kambili has to deal with teenage life and the demands of her Father’s controlling rule in the house. She is torn between wanting to break free from her Father’s demands and violence as well as wanting to please him and make him proud, however, I wonder if these feelings come from a fear of not wanting to provoke him and his wrath, which eventually puts Kambili in hospital with internal and head injuries. Kambili’s father, Eugene, provides schedules for her and her brother, Jaja, that involve study, prayer, family time, and sleep. There is very little room for joy, laughter, play, and being a kid.

Aunty Ifeoma is a university woman and many times throughout the novel, Kambili’s mother implies she is too smart for her own good. Her ‘university thinking’ gets Ifeoma in trouble with the university and with her brother, Eugene. The key role of Ifeoma is that her home becomes a catalyst for Jaja and Kambili. In Nsukka, Kambili and Jaja are allowed to be children. They are allowed to smile, breath, and enjoy their days without fear of violence.

Kambili’s mother is a very weak character for two reasons: she is not very present in the narrative, and she is also very passive throughout. It is only towards the end of the novel that we learn that she actually poisoned her husband, Eugene, and ultimately saved the children from his wrath. Yet it is Jaja that takes the blame for this crime and the novel ends ambiguously and the reader never learns if Jaja will be freed.

The domestic violence represented in the novel is both vivid and silent. This seemed to be one of the most effective writing tools that Adichie uses throughout the novel. The domestic violence scenes are sometimes explained vividly, like the scene in the bath where Kambili has boiling water poured over her feet. And yet, when Eugene finds the portrait of his father, Kambili blacks out as Eugene kicks into her whilst she is on the ground.

Kambili struggles with wanting to please her father and escape his terror. She is constantly torn between these two desires and even after her father dies she is unsure what to think of it all. Father Amadi is the only strong male character in Kambili’s life and he also becomes her first love interest. Whilst nothing romantic really transpires between the two, there is a deep understanding of love, respect, and affection between the two of them. I believe that it is through Father Amadi’s guidance and support that Kambili is able to start to figure out her own identity away from her father, religion, and family.

Kambili, whilst staying with her aunty learns that Nigerian traditions and Christian beliefs are not so black and white, wrong and right. Similarly, she learns that love does not always mean complete submission and relinquishment of personal agency. In the end, she learns that things often seen in opposition of each other can actually exist together, in a strange kind of harmony.

This book, like Adichie’s others, is beautifully written. It is extremely accessible and despite its 300-odd pages, the book feels too short, too quick. Adichie, if you’re reading: a sequel would be great. ( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
Put this on the bookshelf with Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions as one of the best novel's of coming of age as a woman in modern Africa ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
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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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