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    “I Believe Literature Is In Peril”: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Talks About Freedom Of Speech For Her Reith Lecture

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently clarified her comments on transwomen. Her take on the trans issues are still not met in the right zone by many. That’s also why she is often called out as a ‘controversial’ figure. Adichie talked about “freedom of speech” for her Reith lecture for the BBC.

    The theme for this year is ‘freedom’. Adichie’s contribution for the series will launch on Radio 4. She is a hit with Gen Z. Her novels ‘Purple Hibiscus’ had an immediate impact, winning the Commonwealth writer’s prize and international acclaim. Many of her other famous books like ‘Yellow Sun’ and ‘Americanah’ have been added into GCSE curriculum.

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    Why Adichie Thinks Literature Is In Peril?

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    “In her Reith Lecture, Ngozi Adichie makes a passionate, trenchant call-to-arms, and argues that our culture of self-censorship, policing each other’s language, cordoning off whole subjects as unsayable, is “almost the death knell of literary and other cultural production,” The Guardian column reveals.

    Adichie’s worries are the worries of every writer and artist; about authoritarianism, about rightwing populism, about fake news and about democracy failing.

    “Literature deeply matters and I believe literature is in peril because of social censure. If nothing changes, the next generation will read us and wonder, how did they manage to stop being human? How were they so lacking in contradiction and complexity? How did they banish all their shadows?,” Adichie inquires.

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    Adichie Clarifies Her Position On Trans Issues


    An American student once accosted me at a book reading,” Ngozi Adichie tells her audience. Why, the student asked angrily, had Ngozi Adichie said something in an interview? “I told her that what I had said was the truth and she agreed that it was – and then asked, ‘But why should we say it, even if it’s true?’ At first, I was astonished at the absurdity of the question, then I realised what she meant. It didn’t matter what I actually believed.”

    Ever since Adichie faced backlash for her comments on transgender women, she is afraid of free speech: “that she can’t say biological sex is inalienable without sparking a storm.” “So somebody who looks like my brother – he says, ‘I’m a woman’, and walks into the women’s bathroom, and a woman goes, ‘You’re not supposed to be here’, and she’s transphobic?”

    “But that’s the thing,” she says. “You can look however you want now and say you’re a woman.” And, she adds, anyone who might take issue with this is “outdated” and needs “to have the young people educate [them]”.

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    Trisha Gayathri G
    Trisha Gayathri G
    Trisha Gayathri is an ardent writer and a public speaker. She has a masters in English from Women's Christian College, Chennai. She loves to read and 'Book Thief' is her favourite. She knows everything about music and fandom. Her motto in life is to entertain people and thereby placing her first step into entertainment by writing for the entertainment unit of First Curiosity.

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