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Notes on Grief

Notes on Grief

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hardcover

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Overview

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.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593320808
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/11/2021
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 39,602
Product dimensions: 4.80(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New YorkerThe New York TimesGrantaThe O. Henry Prize StoriesFinancial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which was the recipient of the Women’s Prize for Fiction “Winner of Winners” award; Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck; and the essays We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, both national bestsellers. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Read an Excerpt

1

From England, my brother set up the Zoom calls every Sunday, our boisterous lockdown ritual: two siblings joining from Lagos, three of us from the United States, and my parents, sometimes echoing and crackly, from Abba, our ancestral hometown in southeastern Nigeria. On 7 June, there was my father, only his forehead on the screen, as usual, because he never quite knew how to hold his phone during video calls. “Move your phone a bit, Daddy,” one of us would say. My father was teasing my brother Okey about a new nickname, then he was saying he hadn’t had dinner because they’d had a late lunch, then he was talking about the billionaire from the next town who wanted to claim our village’s ancestral land. He felt a bit unwell, had been sleeping poorly, but we were not to worry. On 8 June, Okey went to Abba to see him and said he looked tired. On 9 June, I kept our chat brief, so that he could rest. He laughed quietly when I did my playful imitation of a relative. “Ka chi fo,” he said. Good night. His last words to me. On 10 June, he was gone. My brother Chuks called to tell me, and I came undone.

2

My four-year-old daughter says I scared her. She gets down on her knees to demonstrate, her small clenched fist rising and falling, and her mimicry makes me see myself as I was: utterly unraveling, screaming and pounding the floor. The news is like a vicious uprooting. I am yanked away from the world I have known since childhood. And I am resistant: my father read the newspaper that afternoon, he joked with Okey about shaving before his appointment with the kidney specialist in Onitsha the next day, he discussed his hospital test results on the phone with my sister Ijeoma, who is a doctor—and so how can this be? But there he is. Okey is holding a phone over my father’s face, and my father looks asleep, his face relaxed, beautiful in repose. Our Zoom call is beyond surreal, all of us weeping and weeping and weeping, in different parts of the world, looking in disbelief at the father we adore now lying still on a hospital bed. It happened a few minutes before midnight, Nigerian time, with Okey by his side and Chuks on speakerphone. I stare and stare at my father. My breathing is difficult. Is this what shock means, that the air turns to glue? My sister Uche says she has just told a family friend by text, and I almost scream, “No! Don’t tell anyone, because if we tell people, then it becomes true.” My husband is saying, “Breathe slowly, drink some of this water.” My housecoat, my lockdown staple, is lying crumpled on the floor. Later my brother Kene will jokingly say, “You better not get any shocking news in public, since you react to shock by tearing off your clothes.”

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