Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home-a home that is silent and suffocating. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father's authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins' laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together. Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
From the Inside Flap
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father's authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
"A breathtaking debut. . .[Adichie] is very much the 21st-century daughter of that other great Igbo novelist, Chinua Achebe." - The Washington Post Book World
"The author's straightforward prose captures the tragic riddle of a man who has made an unquestionably positive contribution to the lives of strangers while abandoning the needs of those who are closest to him." - The New York Times Book Review
"At once the portrait of a country and a family, of terrible choices and the tremulous pleasure of an odd, rare purple hibiscus blooming amid a conforming sea of red ones"--San Francisco Chronicle
"Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes. . . . Adichie's understanding of a young girl's heart is so acute that her story ultimately rises above its setting and makes her little part of Nigeria seem as close and vivid as Eudora Welty's Mississippi." - The Boston Globe
"Adichie renders this coming-of-age story beautifully. Every character has dimension; every description resonates like cello music. . . . [Her] strong, lyrical voice earns her a place on the shelf squarely next to Gabriel Garc'a M‡rquez and Alex Haley and Chinua Achebe." --San Diego Union-Tribune
"A fiction writer's job is to create a world so detailed, evocative and emotionally true that, like Alice, you fall into it. Adichie does exactly that, placing among the frangipani trees and bougainvillea of her native country a family demoralized and degraded by a father's cruelty. Amazing." --The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[A] splendid debut." --Vanity Fair
"Stunning. . . .With Purple Hibiscus, Adichie has established herself as a writer of enormous promise and with important stories to tell." --Bust
"Remarkable. Kambili's voice is sensitive and unassuming. It is also, by turns, funny, full of young and passionate longing, and crushingly sad. In addition to its lovely, spare writing and complex characters, [Purple Hibiscus] has a swift, seamless story line and makes politically tumultuous and intricately textured Nigeria completely accessible. [Adichie is] a budding star on the rise." --The Hartford Courant
"A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state." --J. M. Coetzee
"Adichie writes with subtlety and cleanliness. Her hushed tone and economy of words invoke a wise calm, and the inclusion of animals, flowers and trees as characters suggests a connectedness with the Earth and its forces that gives the narrative a romance and African sensibility. Elegant turns of phrase thrive throughout the work, along with a thousand themes." --Black Issues Book Review
"A remarkably original debut, at once seductive, tender, and true. . . . Purple Hibiscus is the best debut I've read since Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things." --Jason Cowley, The Times (London) journalist and literary editor of New Statesman
"[A] wonderful debut. . . . Adichie skillfully blends the traditional story-as-parable approach with the more . . . introspective Western approach to novel writing. . . . Purple Hibiscus is more than entertainment. It is political satire and a call for change for a nation smothering under a lack of free speech." --San Antonio Express-News
"A novel of tragic beauty and exquisite tension. . . . A monumental literary achievement and a heartfelt prayer for Nigeria." --Jervey Tervalon, author of Dead Above Ground and Understand This
"Radiant. . . . It takes an incredible talent to write knowingly about adolescent turmoil, the cultural ties that bind generations and the demanding forces that shape our lives. Adichie . . . possesses this genius. . . . Kambili's story could be recreated anywhere, but not with the same intensity Adichie brings to this breathtaking novel." --The Sanford Herald (Sanford, North Carolina)
"A heartfelt novel that sheds dramatic light on the ugly truths of family violence. Adichie has wrested moments of pure beauty and grace out of the siblings' quiet rebellion." --Time Out New York
"Replete with beauty and horror, Adichie's novel of self-hatred, fear and family, with its political/allegorical overtones, is a moving, sometimes breathtaking debut." --Herald Sunday (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
"Vivid, authoritative, and true to the experiences of a teenage girl in contemporary middle-class Nigeria. Kambili's plainspoken narration adds texture to the novel. [Adichie is a] writer to watch." --Boston Phoenix --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Papa always sat in the front pew for Mass, at the end beside the middle aisle, with Mama, Jaja, and me sitting next to him. He was first to receive communion. Most people did not kneel to receive communion at the marble altar, with the blond life-size Virgin Mary mounted nearby, but Papa did. He would hold his eyes shut so hard that his face tightened into a grimace, and then he would stick his tongue out as far as it could go. Afterward, he sat back on his seat and watched the rest of the congregation troop to the altar, palms pressed together and extended, like a saucer held sideways, just as Father Benedict had taught them to do. Even though Father Benedict had been at St. Agnes for seven years, people still referred to him as "our new priest." Perhaps they would not have if he had not been white. He still looked new. The colors of his face, the colors of condensed milk and a cut-open soursop, had not tanned at all in the ?erce heat of seven Nigerian harmattans. And his British nose was still as pinched and as narrow as it always was, the same nose that had had me worried that he did not get enough air when he first came to Enugu. Father Benedict had changed things in the parish, such as insisting that the Credo and kyrie be recited only in Latin; Igbo was not acceptable. Also, hand clapping was to be kept at a minimum, lest the solemnity of Mass be compromised. But he allowed offertory songs in Igbo; he called them native songs, and when he said "native" his straight-line lips turned down at the corners to form an inverted U. During his sermons, Father Benedict usually referred to the pope, Papa, and Jesus--in that order. He used Papa to illustrate the gospels. "When we let our light shine before men, we are reflecting Christ's Triumphant Entry," he said that Palm Sunday. "Look at Brother Eugene. He could have chosen to be like other Big Men in this country, he could have decided to sit at home and do nothing after the coup, to make sure the government did not threaten his businesses. But no, he used the Standard to speak the truth even though it meant the paper lost advertising. Brother Eugene spoke out for freedom. How many of us have stood up for the truth? How many of us have re?ected the Triumphant Entry?"
The congregation said "Yes" or "God bless him" or "Amen," but not too loudly so they would not sound like the mushroom Pentecostal churches; then they listened intently, quietly. Even the babies stopped crying, as if they, too, were listening. On some Sundays, the congregation listened closely even when Father Benedict talked about things everybody already knew, about Papa making the biggest donations to Peter's pence and St. Vincent de Paul. Or about Papa paying for the cartons of communion wine, for the new ovens at the convent where the Reverend Sisters baked the host, for the new wing to St. Agnes Hospital where Father Benedict gave extreme unction. And I would sit with my knees pressed together, next to Jaja, trying hard to keep my face blank, to keep the pride from showing, because Papa said modesty was very important.
Papa himself would have a blank face when I looked at him, the kind of expression he had in the photo when they did the big story on him after Amnesty World gave him a human rights award. It was the only time he allowed himself to be featured in the paper. His editor, Ade Coker, had insisted on it, saying Papa deserved it, saying Papa was too modest. Mama told me and Jaja; Papa did not tell us such things. That blank look would remain on his face until Father Benedict ended the sermon, until it was time for communion. After Papa took communion, he sat back and watched the congregation walk to the altar and, after Mass, reported to Father Benedict, with concern, when a person missed communion on two successive Sundays. He always encouraged Father Benedict to call and win that person back into the fold; nothing but mortal sin would keep a person away from communion two Sundays in a row.
So when Papa did not see Jaja go to the altar that Palm Sunday when everything changed, he banged his leatherbound missal, with the red and green ribbons peeking out, down on the dining table when we got home. The table was glass, heavy glass. It shook, as did the palm fronds on it.
"Jaja, you did not go to communion," Papa said quietly, almost a question.
Jaja stared at the missal on the table as though he were addressing it. "The wafer gives me bad breath."
I stared at Jaja. Had something come loose in his head? Papa insisted we call it the host because "host" came close to capturing the essence, the sacredness, of Christ's body. "Wafer" was too secular, wafer was what one of Papa's factories made--chocolate wafer, banana wafer, what people bought their children to give them a treat better than biscuits.
"And the priest keeps touching my mouth and it nauseates me," Jaja said. He knew I was looking at him, that my shocked eyes begged him to seal his mouth, but he did not look at me.
"It is the body of our Lord." Papa's voice was low, very low. His face looked swollen already, with pus-tipped rashes spread across every inch, but it seemed to be swelling even more. "You cannot stop receiving the body of our Lord. It is death, you know that."