Novel discusses Nigerian experience

booktalk

By: Sophie Bates, Contributing Writer

The One Maryland One Book winner for this year, “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is being recognized at Towson University.

Set in postcolonial Nigeria, the book follows protagonist Kambili Achike and focuses on themes of violence and silence.

Cook Library hosted a book discussion Oct. 25, where students, faculty and staff were invited to share their ideas and opinions about the book, or learn about the book for the first time. Free bookmarks, reading guides and copies of the book were available to pick up throughout the discussion.

“Purple Hibiscus tells a really good tale of growth because the main character really undergoes quite a change throughout the book,” Librarian for Outreach and Student Engagement Eden Parks said. “And it’s great to see a character develop like that in a book, as well as fit the theme of home and belonging,”    

Political science professor Donn Worgs opened up the discussion with the themes in mind.

“Given my perspective as I was reading, I just kept thinking about race, religion, and gender, and the complexities of these themes,” Worgs said.

Senior Osaretin Sesebor said she connected with Adichie based on their shared cultural backgrounds.

“The author is very important to me, because she’s Nigerian and I’m Nigerian,” Sesebor said. “She’s someone that I grew up reading and I really enjoy listening to her perspectives and Ted Talks as well.”

The importance of the author’s race was vital to Parks as well.

“This was a great selection because it has a different perspective on those topics than what a lot of western literature is exposed to,” Parks said. “The author is African, and it’s a really great perspective on what these themes mean and how universal they are. I think one thing we don’t always assume is how universal some of these themes really are.”

For Sesebor, the book opens up important discussion that might have been uncomfortable in our society.

“I really like the book, it’s different”  Sesebor said. “It touches on domestic violence and the issue of ‘keeping quiet’ and I think that’s important. The more you talk about it, the more you reduce the stigma of not talking about it.”

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