A Year in Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

December 6, 2013 | 1 book mentioned 4

coverI most enjoyed Barbara Pym’s A Glass of Blessings, which I only just discovered this year. Pym is funny and witty, brilliant at portraying the middle class English of the 1950s, and in particular she does the ‘psychology of femaleness’ very well.

It is a ‘slice of ordinary life’ sort of novel, that manages to be both prim and subversive, perhaps because of the matter of fact way that the contradictions of life are shown, for example the horror of the High Anglicans about the menace of Catholicism, and the laissez-faire attitude of a woman whose husband fancies her friend.

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's work has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, and Zoetrope. She is the author of The Thing Around Your Neck and of three novels, Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist, and Americanah. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.


  1. I love the whole “prim but subversive” canon. Claire Messud’s character in “The Woman Upstairs” is a type of “crazy cousin locked up in the attic” to the more well-behaved Pym characters. Their spiritual godmother is Jane Austen.

    When I think of the writing of Mailer and Hemingway, I imagine a big noisy, farting guy wrestling, drinking, wenching, and bullfighting his way through the page, with an army of quiet Pym characters bringing up the rear, wiping up the piss, blood and sweat with a sturdy cloth and ammonia cleanser, a silent universe of observation seething in their brains. Their presence is at the periphery of the page and their quietness belies what my be waiting there in the wings.

    I have sensed that same peripheral lurking in the corners of paintings of 17th Century manor houses in western County Cork in Ireland, full of dappled sunlight and green meadows. Hunting parties gallop along through the woods, masters of their domain. You might spy a picturesque garden boy in the background, making hay. He might be my great, great great grandfather, who would happily throw a very large rock at any of them within reach if he could get away with it. His descendants would then ultimately successfully oust them all and form a republic.

    It’s all in the perspective!

  2. Interesting, the write up is full of perfect rhetorism that stimulates the reader’s ego to change the reading gear forward, keep it up its a nice piece!

  3. Hi Evelyn Walsh!

    Are you the same person who published “Birthday Girl’ in Narratives? Glad to see another “chord” being struck. :)

    Moe Murph
    (Rough Week At Work — Subversion Unfortunately Limited To Slamming Door To Stall In Ladies Room In Especially Energetic Manner)

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