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Last Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007, 08:40 GMT
Life after Orange Prize success
By Fiona Pryor
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie started writing at the age of six
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was named 2007's winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction in June.

Despite scooping one of the UK's most prestigious literary prizes, the 30-year-old insists her life has not changed much.

"The only thing that Orange did was make more readers aware of my work who probably would not have heard of me.

"So now I get more e-mails from different parts of the world," she says.

Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, is her second work and is set during the Biafran War of the 1960s.

'Subjective prizes'

Thinking back to the moment when her name was called out, Adichie says she was surprised to take home the award.

"I wanted to win, but because I thought I wouldn't and because I had been told that I was the bookies' favourite, I thought it was a bad sign.

"I had really psyched myself into expecting not to win in case I didn't.

"For a minute I didn't know what to think and then I realised how happy I was," she says.

Prize winning is nice but it's never been my goal. My goal is to write better
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Even though Odoh Okonyedo, the literary editor of Nigeria's Weekly Trust, had hailed Adichie as "the new face of Nigerian literature", the writer says winning was a sort of "validation" for her work.

Becoming the youngest winner to date and the first from Africa also made this an extra special achievement for Adichie.

However, after taking the 30,000 prize money, the author says she is not interested in winning any more literary awards.

"Prize winning is nice but it's never been my goal. My goal is to write better and to write my next book and have it be better and to mean something to people who read it," she says.

"I realised how horribly subjective prizes are and so I never write with prizes in mind."


Adichie, who began writing at the age of six, has certainly come a long way since her early days as a writer.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun takes its name from the Biafran flag

"I remember my first rejection making me hopelessly depressed until I realised that it's part of it. You can't be a writer and not have rejection," she says.

Despite sounding humble she does admit to the temptation of writing "nasty letters" to those agents who rejected her but so far has managed to restrain herself.

It is clear how much writing means to Adichie and running out of ideas is not what bothers her.

"What I do worry about sometimes is something happening to me that would make it impossible for me to write, because I don't know that I would want to live if I couldn't write," she says.

"I'm very much committed to my writing and it's what matters the most to me. I think I'm doing what I would have done if I hadn't won the Orange."

Award surprises Nigerian author
07 Jun 07 |  Africa
Author Adichie wins Orange Prize
06 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Adichie leads Orange prize race
06 Jun 07 |  Entertainment

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