She's the toast of Hollywood and now Lupita Nyong'o has optioned rights for the film version of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's best-selling novel Americanah, the Nigerian author confirmed exclusively to Stylist last night.
Responding to audience questions at Stylist magazine's inaugural book club event at the Waldorf Hilton hotel in London, 36-year-old Adichie said Nyong'o had landed the film rights to the novel, which tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who moves to America for a university education.
Americanah was published last year to rave reviews. Adichie's third book, it is spread across three continents and a multitude of characters, as it examines issues of immigration, identity and human dignity with a witty and provocative eye.
Kenyan-raised Nyong'o, 31, was first linked to the film adaptation in March, when Adichie revealed that the Oscar-winning actress loved the book and "will be making an announcement soon".
"Lupita was a very early fan of Americanah," Adichie told Arise Entertainment 360. "And so before she was sort of well-known in the way that she is now, she wrote me … the loveliest email, a very long and passionate email about Americanah."
Lupita Nyong'o has won rights to the film version of Americanah
Winning the rights is the latest coup for Nyong'o, in a formidable year that has seen her lauded both on-screen with an Academy Award (for Steve McQueen epic 12 Years A Slave) and as an emerging fashion icon thanks to her widely celebrated fashion choices on the red carpet.
Also at last night's first ever Stylist book club, Adichie addressed the way in which Beyonce had sampled lyrics from her TED talk on the singer's hit track ***Flawless last year.
Adichie appeared to cautiously welcome the move, telling the Stylist audience that "feminism is not an exclusive party... people should allow to define it for themselves."
She also revealed that her 11-year-old niece now identified herself as a feminist as a result of the Beyonce song - something she would never have done had the track not been released.
Adichie, who rocked a chic white dress and a much commented-upon pair of blue stilettos at the event, also shared a wealth of writing tips with the elated audience of around 250 readers and wannabe writers.
And she elicited whoops of approval as she noted (of the feisty female leads in her books), "Strong women aren't remarkable to me they are the norm. I grew up surrounded by strong women."
My writing advice is read read read, said Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at last night's Stylist Book Club
Here's some of the other insight and advice Adichie shared during the first Stylist Book Club:
- ...I keep notes, I don't mind my own business ever!
- I listen to conversations and I watch people at airports to pick up ideas for characters
- I see my characters as humans - I don't judge them as I leave my readers to do that
On the writing process
- My writing advice is read, read, read: you don't have to like what you read but it demystifies writing
- If you are finding the writing process tough, take a break and eat some chocolate
- Writing has texture to it: you need to pick up on real, human details to bring a story to life
- The reader I write for is me. It keeps me honest as I don't try to pander to anyone's view
- I started writing Americanah because I felt compelled. I was emotionally attached to it
- I love writing, it's what makes me happy and that joy is what keeps me going if I struggle with writing a book
- I usually have an idea of where a novel will go but I don’t always know what the end will be
- Tell the truth in your writing even if it means people aren’t going to like it
- I wanted to write about depression in Americanah because it’s not discussed a lot although lots of people suffer from it
- I know women who are brilliant, fierce & alive in the world but they made bad choices about men
Immigration is a thorny issue but I’m interested in the way it strips away human dignity
Chimamanda addressing the audience at last night's Stylist event
Last night's event was the first of Stylist's new book club series. It saw Adichie read an excerpt from her novel Americanah to a sell-out audience of 250 fans, followed by a discussion and Q&A session, and a book signing at the end. Wine and canapes got the night rolling in style.
See a few of the tweets from the evening, below, and stay tuned for details of our next book club event coming in Stylist magazine soon or check Twitter @StylistMagazine under the hashtag #StylistBookClub.