From the globally acclaimed, best-selling novelist and author of We Should All Be Feminists, a timely and deeply personal account of the loss of her father: "With raw eloquence, Notes on Grief ... captures the bewildering messiness of loss in a society that requires serenity, when you'd rather just scream. Grief is impolite ... Adichie's words put welcome, authentic voice to this most universal of emotions, which is also one of the most universally avoided" (The Washington Post).Notes on Grief is an exquisite work of meditation, remembrance, and hope, written in the wake of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's beloved father's death in the summer of 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world, and kept Adichie and her family members separated from one another, her father succumbed unexpectedly to complications of kidney failure. Expanding on her original New Yorker piece, Adichie shares how this loss shook her to her core. She writes about being one of the millions of people grieving this year; about the familial and cultural dimensions of grief and also about the loneliness and anger that are unavoidable in it. With signature precision of language, and glittering, devastating detail on the page--and never without touches of rich, honest humor--Adichie weaves together her own experience of her father's death with threads of his life story, from his remarkable survival during the Biafran war, through a long career as a statistics professor, into the days of the pandemic in which he'd stay connected with his children and grandchildren over video chat from the family home in Abba, Nigeria. In the compact format of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, Adichie delivers a gem of a book--a book that fundamentally connects us to one another as it probes one of the most universal human experiences. Notes on Grief is a book for this moment--a work readers will treasure and share now more than ever--and yet will prove durable and timeless, an indispensable addition to Adichie's canon.
- ISBN-13: 9780593320808
- ISBN-10: 0593320808
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: May 2021
- Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 pounds
- Page Count: 80
Notes on Grief
What is the shape of grief? For writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, grief takes the shape of her father’s absence: the hole he left behind when, in the summer of 2020, he suddenly died of kidney failure. In her slim memoir, Notes on Grief, Adichie pays homage to her father’s remarkable life while observing her own surprising emotions as she moves through the messy process of bereavement, completely unprepared. She writes, “How is it that the world keeps going, breathing in and out unchanged, while in my soul there is a permanent scattering?”
By any measure, James Nwoye Adichie lived an extraordinary life. The first professor of statistics in Nigeria, he also lived through the Biafran War and had his books burned by soldiers. He was an honorable and principled man who was naturally funny. When he visited Adichie at Yale, she asked him if he would like some pomegranate juice, and his response was, “No thank you, whatever that is.”
Adiche lovingly describes such details about her father, from his ease with humor to his discomfort with injustice. Upon learning of a local billionaire’s desire to take over ancestral land in their Nigerian town, he immediately looked into ways to stop him. But what is most memorable in this tribute is Adichie’s father’s love for his family and their enduring love for him. Adichie simply calls him “the loveliest man.”
Processing grief is difficult enough, but Adiche learned of her father’s death in Nigeria while she was home in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. One day, they were having family Zoom calls; the next, he was gone. Arrangements had to be made through phone calls and Zoom, and the funeral was postponed for months because the Nigerian airports were closed. Honoring Igbo traditions and arranging a funeral with her siblings during a worldwide pandemic was enough to make Adichie come undone. The hole her father left behind began to fill with guilt, denial, loneliness, panic and eventually bottomless rage.
A raw, moving account of mourning and loss, Adichie’s memoir reminds us there is no right or wrong way to grieve and that celebrating life every day is the best way to honor our loved ones.