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Tell Me More: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Steve Bisgrove / AP

Critically acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is just 36 years-old and yet her most recent book “Americanah,” a New York Times Best Book of 2013, joins an already impressive body of work: the novels “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and the story collection “The Thing Around Your Neck.” As if her first TED talk were not impressive enough (it generated six and a half million views), her second TED talk, entitled “We Should All Be Feminists,” inspired none other than Beyoncé to sample it for her new song “Flawless.” Here, Adichie discusses forgiveness, our shared humanity, and lipstick.

What does honesty mean to you?

Honesty means putting aside self-protection, self-preservation, self-aggrandizing. And speaking and acting the truth.

What makes you feel loved?

Being heard.

What is empathy?

The ability to always remember the shared humanity of others, the attempt to imagine yourself in another's position, the desire to see through the eyes of another, to become alive in bodies not our own.

What qualities does a remarkable man possess?

Kindness, honesty, curiosity, intelligence

What qualities does a remarkable woman possess?

Kindness, self-love, honesty, curiosity, intelligence

What question stumps you?

Questions about extremes - the best, hardest, worst etc

What is power?

Power is the product of inequality

What is success?

The even sense of being centered in yourself, whether you have arrived where you want to go or you haven't.

Describe one aspect of your dark side.

I find it difficult to forgive and let go, when I feel unfairly wronged (example: 'I would never do this to you so why do it to me?' Or 'How could you do something so hurtful without any provocation?) I struggle to shrug off resentment, I become almost addicted to my own self-righteous sense of being wounded. I make a conscious effort now to stop this -- because it's exhausting and because there is nothing else to be added to sincere remorse) but it's very difficult. My darkest self is, sometimes, sadly my most consistent self.

What does integrity mean to you?

The refusal to pander, the insistence on my truth, never intending to offend but being willing to.

What is feminine?

Lipstick.

What is masculine?

A beard.

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