Chimamanda wins big in France
Fans Caution Against Foreign Awards
Award winning Nigerian Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has added a new feather to her cap, as her book, ‘Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,’ has been named one of three winners of Le Grand Prix de l’héroïne Madame Figaro.
Now in it’s 12th edition, the prize was established in 2006 by the French magazine Madame Figaro to celebrate heroines of French and foreign literature; the shortlisted works are selected by the magazine’s editor.
A team of judges, chaired by influential journalist Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, selected one French novel, one foreign novel in translation, and non-fiction work. “Chère Ijeawele, ou un manifeste pour une éducation féministe,” the French translation of Dear Ijeawele, was selected as the winner in the latter category. Along with Adichie, Alex Stresi was awarded the prize in the French novel category for Lopping and Lauren Groff received the foreign novel prize for Les Furies.
Adichie’s French publisher, Marie-Pierre Gracedieu of Gallimard, said, “When I read Dear Ijeawele, I felt an urge to share it with many friends, women and men, who had become parents of a girl in the recent years. Then I started to feel it had to be read by parents of boys too. And thereafter, by everyone of us to investigate our own education, and try to overcome a few inherited clichés.
“Therefore to publish it at Gallimard has meant a lot to me, and it is a very rewarding experience to see it awarded the Grand Prix de l’Héroïne by Madame Figaro, a prize that celebrates the power of literature and of characters as role models.
“The fact that such an established and popular weekly has understood the importance of spreading the content of this letter-manifesto, even in the Western world, and especially in the political context we are now, brings me joy and hope.”
Since the news broke online, congratulatory messages have continued to pour in for the writer by friends, colleagues and fans, who commended the Anambra State native for her creative ingenuity.
However, there are dissenting voices expressing concerns over Adichie’s numerous foreign awards. To this school of thought, such awards are capable of distorting her message.
“Congratulations to her, but she needs to be aware of Western awards; too often, they are used to rope one into their own agendas. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it would be far better if, as Achebe says, we do ‘our own thing’ rather than seek to fit into some ‘liberal’ agenda. Those, who feel themselves qualified to award prizes to others often feel that their standards of evaluation are the only ones, and that there are no others,” Henry Odukomaiya.
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