Celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie launched an attack on a former student on Tuesday, the latest move in a feud that has become very public.
The feud appears to stem from a 2017 interview Adichie gave to Channel 4 News, where she made comments some deemed to be transphobic.
In an essay published to her website on Tuesday, Adichie went after at least one of her former students for publicly attacking her.
Adichie wrote, ‘There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness.’
She added, ‘People whose social media lives are case studies in emotional aridity. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter. People who claim to love literature — the messy stories of our humanity — but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy.’
Adichie also suggested that she helped the writer in their career, picking their story for an e-magazine after a workshop and writing ‘a glowing introduction, which the story truly deserved.’
In an essay published to her website on Tuesday, Chimamanda Ngoza Adichie went after one of her former students for publicly attacking her
Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi took to Instagram to identify themselves as the likely target
Adichie declined to name the target of her barbs, but fellow Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi took to Instagram to say that Adichie had posted emails without Emezi’s permission, seemingly identifying themselves as Adichie’s target.
Emezi identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
Emezi had previously attended an annual creative writing workshop that Adichie hosts in Nigeria.
Emezi also wrote that the essay was meant to ‘incite hordes of transphobic nigerians to target me.’
In Emezi’s Instagram story, they wrote, ‘Adchie’s social capital originated from the publishing industry.
Emezi also had thoughts on people in the industry who continue giving Adichie a platform.
‘You in the industry continue to platform her, laud her work with no mention of the harm her views inflict on the trans community, and on other writers.’
Emezi, who identifies as nonbinary, criticized Adichie for publishing private emails
Emezi also had thoughts on people in the industry who continue giving Adichie a platform
Adichie, who has written novels such as ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ is one of the most popular authors in the world.
She sparked controversy back in 2017, however, when she gave an interview saying, ‘I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women.’
‘My feeling is trans women are trans women,’ Adichie said in the interview. ‘I think the whole problem of gender in the world is about our experiences, it’s not about how we wear our hair, or whether we have a vagina or a penis, it’s about the way the world treats us.’
‘I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man, with the privileges that the world accords to men, and then sort of changed, switched gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate to your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are,’ Adichie continued.
‘Transgender people should be allowed to be,’ Adichie added.
Some viewed the comments as transphobic, including Emezi. In 2020, Adichie also defended an article from JK Rowling deemed transphobic by some as ‘perfectly reasonable,’ according to the New York Times.
After that, Emezi took their feud public, putting out a lengthy Twitter thread criticizing Adichie.
‘This is not the first time CNA has dismissed people’s condemnation of transphobia as ‘noise’—when you people ignored her transphobia to platform her in SA a few years back, she said the same thing because she gives no f***s about trans people or harming us,’ Emezi wrote on Twitter in November 2020
‘When she first made her transphobia public, I speak for those of us who genuinely loved and looked up to her, that s**t broke our hearts. Me, I had graduated from her workshop + published a whole piece about it, I actually developed my nonfiction voice there,’ Emezi continued.
Last year, Emezi shared their thoughts on Adichie’s public comments linked to ‘transphobia’
Emezi concluded, ‘To now know that people will happily throw trans people under the bus rather than hold her accountable for her views? To be reminded that for so many people, CNA is untouchable and trans people are not worth deplatforming her?’
Adichie appeared to be hurt by the criticism from Emezi because of their personal relationship.
‘Here is the truth: I was very supportive of this writer. I didn’t have to be. I wasn’t asked to be. I supported this writer because I believe we need a diverse range of African stories,’ Adichie wrote.
‘Sabotaging a young writer’s career is just not my style; I would get no benefit or satisfaction from it. Asking that my name be removed from your biography is not sabotaging your career. It is about protecting my boundaries of what I consider acceptable in civil human behavior.
She went on to defend her 2017 interview comments, writing, ‘I said that a trans woman is a trans woman, (the larger point of which was to say that we should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive, that in fact the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference).’
Emezi’s (left) memoir was published last week. Previously, they received a request to remove Adichie’s (right) name from their debut novel because of the feud between the two
The feud over Adichie’s comments also led to an incident involving Emezi’s debut novel, ‘Freshwater.’
Adichie requested that her name be removed from Emezi’s bio in the novel.
Neither person involved has publicly commented on their feud since it exploded this week.
Last week, Emezi’s memoir ‘Dear Senthuran’ was published, bringing them back into the spotlight.
Later in her essay, Adichie launched an even strong offensive against her target.
Adichie (right) is pictured with Michelle Obama during a London event in 2018
Adichie wrote, ‘You publicly call me a murderer AND still feel entitled to benefit from my name?’
‘You use my name (without my permission) to sell your book AND then throw an ugly tantrum when someone makes a reference to it?’
Adichie, who has written novels such as ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ is one of the most popular authors in the world
Adichie asked, ‘What kind of monstrous entitlement, what kind of perverse self-absorption, what utter lack of self-awareness, what unheeding heartlessness, what frightening immaturity makes a person act this way?’
‘Besides, a person who genuinely believes me to be a murderer cannot possibly want my name on their book cover, unless of course that person is a rank opportunist.’
Adichie concluded her essay by touching upon cancel culture.
‘And so we have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow,’ Adichie wrote.
‘I have spoken to young people who tell me they are terrified to tweet anything, that they read and re-read their tweets because they fear they will be attacked by their own,’ she continued.
‘The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene.’