Purple Hibiscus

Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

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.

Purple Hibiscus is licensed for publication in 28 languages.

Awards/ Distinctions

  • Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Best Debut Fiction Category), 2004
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (Africa), 2005
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (overall), 2005
  • “One Maryland, One Book” selection, 2017

Praise for:

Purple Hibiscus

"[A] splendid debut."

Vanity Fair

"One of the best novels to come out of Africa in years."

The Baltimore Sun

"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

"A breathtaking debut...[Adichie] is very much the 21st-century daughter of that other great Igbo novelist, Chinua Achebe."

The Washington Post Book World

"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

"In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting, this is an accomplished first effort."

Publishers Weekly

"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

"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

"Remarkably original...at once seductive, tender and true."

Jason Cowley, The Times (London) journalist and literary editor of New Statesman

"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 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

"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

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