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Stylist meets author and feminist powerhouse Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Her wise words are quoted by everyone from Beyoncé to Dior to the Women’s Economic Empowerment Seminar. Stylist’s editor Susan Riley meets author and feminist powerhouse Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Photography: Chris Floyd
Fashion: Arabella Greenhill

“We should all be feminists”: it’s the T-shirt of the season. But while the name on the label might read Dior, it’s the name behind the quote that’s even more of the moment and in demand: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Right now, Adichie, 39, could fill entire catwalks with soundbites from her books and talks. Three I’d happily wear across my own chest would be: “Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive”; “Where there is true equality, resentment does not exist”; and the far pithier, “The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina”. She also brilliantly described Donald Trump’s presidency during a 2016 Newsnight interview as being like “letting a little child drive a very sophisticated car”. This is a woman who has a delectable way with words.

But then, of course she does. Her day job, when she’s not being sampled on Beyoncé tracks (an extract of We Should All Be Feminists – originally a viral 2013 Tedx Euston talk before being published as an essay the next year – appeared on Flawless in 2014) or having her words walked down a Dior runway, is critically acclaimed author. That of Americanah, winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award; Half Of A Yellow Sun, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction; and further award-garnering work.

T-shirt, £490, Christian Dior (dior.com)

T-shirt, £490, Christian Dior (dior.com)

Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions is Adichie’s latest; a bite-sized book of beauty that lays the framework for raising a feminist child (Adichie is herself mum to a one-year-old girl), and originally drafted in response to a friend who asked her advice. I read it in a heartbeat; then made notes in the margin. For the purpose of this interview, yes, but mainly because it just makes so much sense.

In real life, Adichie is... tired. She’s flown in from Baltimore for 24 hours to speak at the WOW festival on London’s Southbank, and we’ve cocooned her in her hotel nearby until it begins. Yet despite 90 minutes’ sleep, ‘Chimmers’, as her PR tellingly greets her with a warm hug, is dry-witted, always honest and brilliant at articulating the most mammoth of topics in the simplest and most relatable of ways. It’s no exaggeration to say I could have spoken to her for hours (I tried; I had five pages of questions). She also rather wonderfully asked our photographer Chris not to “make her look wistful”, which we’re guessing might have happened before, so ingrained is society’s idea of how a smart woman is meant to be portrayed. Don’t worry, it’s a topic we get on to...



We Should All Be Feminists is now mandatory reading for Swedish school students and two weeks ago inspired the opening speech at a European Parliament Women’s Economic Empowerment Seminar. Why do you think it continues to strike such a chord?
Because misogyny continues to thrive in the world; because gender inequality continues to exist, and I think that it’s very universal in the way that it speaks to something women all over the world identify with; it gives language to it. I have to say I was surprised by it – I didn’t think that it would have much of a reach when I gave that talk.

You’re now becoming as well known for feminism as you are for your novels. Is this intentional or a happy accident?
It’s not intentional. Certainly not. Because I’m a storyteller; that’s what I love to do, what I want to do, and what I think I’m here on earth to do. But feminism happens to be something I think is so important... I guess it is what it is. I don’t think of myself as an expert in feminism, and it hasn’t always been a pleasant experience; there’s a lot of hostility that comes with being a public face for something that is still, all over the world, a contested thing.

In an interview recently, you said: “Now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world”. Is that a source of exasperation, pride, or somewhere in between?
[Laughs] A very grey, murky area in between. I think it’s also because [while] I respect academic feminism and the kind of feminism that’s about conferences and things, I’m much more interested in the idea of gender as a lived experience, of stories and language, and how we change the way mindsets are. And so to be invited to every ‘bloody feminist thing’ just isn’t the plan. I’d rather be home.

How do you react when grown women are visibly excited to meet you [Adichie’s book publicist jokes it can be like touring with One Direction, as opposed to a regular author]?
Often I find it energising. Sometimes I am just moved – and I can get foolishly emotional so there are times where it comes close to tears, where it’s just that lovely idea of a common humanity. I know it sounds very cheesy but that’s what it is – and there are times when I’m... not shy, but something close to shy. And then I don’t know what the hell to do with my face [laughs].

T-shirt and skirt, as before; shoes, £655, Manolo Blahnik (manoloblahnik.com)

T-shirt and skirt, as before; shoes, £655, Manolo Blahnik (manoloblahnik.com)

What do people mostly want to say to you or ask you?
It’s been a lot of women saying you’ve made me feel better or stronger or more hopeful. I remember one Nigerian American woman in New York, who was pretty much in tears, saying, “Until I read you I didn’t have a sense of who I was, and reading you made me have a sense of identity.” We’ve kept in touch. Then there was a Danish woman in Copenhagen who talked about how I’d given her a name for what she was feeling and that I’d made her feel stronger. And I really had to hold myself; I was like “Where’s the tissue?” I was so moved.

Your words are, of course – as worn on our cover – emblazoned on the T-shirt of the season. How did that come to be?
A lovely handwritten letter came from Maria Grazia [Chiuri], who is the creative director of Dior, and I was utterly charmed by it. It was long and passionate; about how she’d read everything I’d written, and about her feminism and how strongly she felt that it was important today – especially for young women – to be out there about gender equality. As much as I love fashion, my first thought [about going to the show] was, ‘Oh no... I’ll be bored’. But I’m so glad I went because it was interesting; I felt like an anthropologist. And Maria Grazia was as lovely in person as her letter, and we had the most animated conversation. Then when the models who were frighteningly skinny were walking [the catwalk], I heard my voice from my talk. I didn’t know that would happen, so I was sort of taken aback, like what the hell?! But there was something really nice about it, you know?

What do you think the benefits are of being quoted by a fashion brand, and is there a downside?
I think what Maria Grazia wanted to do was obviously symbolic, so I don’t think that putting that on a T-shirt is going to change the world. But I do think symbolic things matter and symbolic things start conversations. Actually I remember after the show standing outside and hearing a man say: “I don’t know why that should be on a T-shirt.” And I was kind of amused by that. It made me think: maybe that’s why it’s on a T-shirt. Because you could tell there was a hostility about it. Do I think there’s a downside? No. I don’t. When it comes to feminism, it has to be mainstream.

As a lover of fashion, what is your earliest memory of getting dressed up?
I was six in my mother’s room. She had a dressing table that I loved with jewellery and perfumes, and we were getting ready for church and she was doing my hair. My dress was white with blue polka dots and she’d put ribbons in my hair that also had polka dots, and my socks were pulled up almost to my knees. I remember this very clearly.



You design a lot of your own clothes but which designers do you like?
I’ve started really paying attention to Nigerian designers, because there’s so much talent in Nigeria. I just wore a young woman from Abuja whose label is called Style Temple and... I need to show you a picture of this dress I wore [scrolls through her phone to a shot of her in an amazing shirt dress] and when I sent it to my family, they were like, “What the hell is going on with the sleeves!”

I love it!
I loved it too! My husband [Dr Ivara Esege, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Maryland] sometimes, I’ll dress up and he’ll look at me and burst out laughing! And I’ve made peace with that [laughs].

There is a blogger called Man Repeller who is all about that.
Yes. Who I love, actually.

When you were announced as the face of Boots No7 last year, you defended that decision in several interviews. Isn’t it bizarre that a woman should have to explain and justify her relationship with make-up?
Yes, I think it’s sad. But the major reason I said yes to doing it was because of that; because I wanted to challenge those notions that I know are still very mainstream. Obviously, I knew that it would come with raised eyebrows and some criticism – but that’s the point. It’s my way of saying this is absurd: we cannot say that a woman who is interested in make-up, for example, is automatically frivolous. So I was constantly asked: isn’t it surprising that you are a feminist and you would do this, and I’m like, no! Because I’m a feminist and I wake up some mornings and just want to put the brightest colour on my lips and it makes me happy and it doesn’t make me any less intelligent or any less intellectually curious. This is a conversation that is about misogyny; the idea that the things considered traditionally feminine have to be degraded and diminished.

I do sympathise with the history... I can see why women at the start of the western feminist movement decided to push back the idea that we’re not pretty; that we don’t want to perform femininity any more and that we want to disavow the whole package; I can understand that. But it’s 2017. We can now keep the baby, the bath water, the bath tub... you know, we don’t have to throw everything out.

Dress, £650, Rejina Pyo (brownsfashion.com)

Dress, £650, Rejina Pyo (brownsfashion.com)

Sometimes I think it’s a conversation we need to have more among women, more so than with men.
I think so too. Which is also the case for many other gender- related things. In some ways, it’s kind of that divide, which is just part of living in a world that is dominated by patriarchy – the woman is either the slut or she’s serious. There’s a binary: you can’t be both. So the criticism about fashion is, if you show an interest in fashion you can’t possibly be intelligent. It’s misogynistic. It dehumanises women.

Why did you decide to publish your latest essay now?
Two things. There were many social media debates among Nigerians that I found very worrying and I was a bit taken aback by how retrograde they were: basic things like ‘women must cook’, coming from people who were, you know, reasonable people. The other thing was I’ve been asked quite a few times by women what their feminist reaction to things should be, and being told by young women that they aren’t sure if they were feminist enough. And there’s a part of me who just really wants to say to young women: being feminist doesn’t need to be a difficult thing or a thing where one beats oneself up.

If you were to ask anyone to write an essay of advice like your friend did to you [which inspired Dear Ijeawele] who would you ask and what would the question be?
Even before I got pregnant, I was always curious about women’s experiences with childcare – but it was more of a political curiosity because I wanted to know: what’s your domestic situation? Do you have a partner? Is the partner fully involved? That sort of thing. But when I was pregnant the curiosity became more personal. It was more I wanted wisdom – so I would ask women who were doing things in the world and had children. So I think if I had to write that letter, I would ask women about the things – and not just childcare – that they have not yet unlearned. I would ask: are you willing to be public about gender-related things that you have not unlearned? Are you willing to tell me the stories about times when you reduced yourself and you knew that it was gendered and you did it anyway? I’m very curious about that. And I think many women continue to do that.

Chimamanda’s TedX talk We Should All Be Feminists has been viewed over 3.7 million times

Chimamanda’s TedX talk We Should All Be Feminists has been viewed over 3.7 million times

CNN recently raised the question that you are the most influential woman in Africa.
What? Really? Oh that’s ridiculous! [Laughs]

Aside from the fact that Africa is rather large... [more laughter from Adichie], and that’s a pretty far-reaching accolade, how do you react to that?
I don’t read things about myself and this is why. I mean, obviously I’m not the most influential woman in Africa [chuckles]. You know, exaggerating things always makes me a little uncomfortable – and then of course it’s going to make my relatives in Nigeria think I am more powerful than I am, I have more money than I do, and they’re going to send me more emails about sending them things, it’s very worrying [more laughter].

Who in your mind is influential on your home continent? Or who would you like Stylist readers to know about?
I admire Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who used to be the finance minister in Nigeria. I admire Ama [Ata] Aidoo, a Ghanaian writer. I admire Graça Machel who is a total babe and used to be married to Nelson Mandela.

How have your family reacted to your growing profile, because things have dialed up a notch?
My family [Adichie is one of six children] has always been supportive. I think because even as a child I was slightly unusual. I was the child who asked questions, who pushed back a bit more, and so there’s always been room made for me in my family to be a little [explorative]. So I feel as though sort of having become this public person is something that they are proud of. [But] when it comes to gender, I don’t think my being a public face for feminism is their favourite thing; I don’t think they have an enormous enthusiasm.


Are your principles shared by all the women in your family?
No, certainly not. Many of the women in my family do not share my principles.

So do you avoid those discussions? Or still get into lively debates that all families do?
Oh, all the time. It doesn’t always end well, but it happens all the time. But I’ve also noticed that there’s a kind of ‘be careful what you say around her when it comes to feminism’ kind of thing, which is very annoying because what I want is honesty. I want it all out there. I don’t want people to feel that they have to censor themselves because of me, because I sometimes get that sense, and even that is telling.

What’s the ratio of time you spend in Nigeria versus the US? [Adichie splits her time between Lagos and Maryland.]
It depends on what’s going on in my life. Before I had the baby I’d spend a lot more time in Lagos, but since I’ve had my child we’ve spent more time in the US. It just depends what’s going on in my life and my husband’s life. It’s an incredible piece of good fortune that I can do that.

What’s it like living in America currently?
It’s strange. I wake up every morning and I think, ‘What’s happened now?’ It’s almost like the idea of what is real is something that you can contest and we’re somehow arguing facts. It’s like a bad novel. Disappointment is now the norm, by which I mean...

Expectations have been lowered...?
So lowered, so lowered... it’s distressing.


When you go out for dinner with friends is it something that occupies a lot of conversation still?
Yes, and people [have] changed their travel plans for example because they were so worried about this travel ban. I’ll tell you something that just broke my heart: a friend of mine who is a legal permanent resident of the US was looking for something in her handbag and suddenly her green card falls out. I said: why do you have your green card? Shouldn’t you keep it somewhere safe? And she said since Trump she takes it everywhere with her because you never know.

This time has coincided with you having a daughter. Has that made your maternal instinct even stronger?
Yes, I’m fiercely protective of this child; it scares even me! Because this incredible love comes into your life, and suddenly you just feel things more.

Did you take her on the Women’s March?
No, we wanted to but the logistics... My husband and I went together. He was much more hyper than I was. We get there, he buys the T-shirt, he gets the pink thing, puts it on his head and was like yeah! [Laughs]. At one point people were counter-protesting with gory images of aborted foetuses and then suddenly there was a groundswell of women saying, “My body, my choice, it’s my body, my choice...” And suddenly I realised my husband was chanting, “My body, my choice,” and I said to him, “Erm... darling... you don’t get to because it’s not relevant to you... I mean I don’t think you can have an abortion...” [laughs].

Do you think the administration took any notice?
For me it’s less about [that] – and how could they not – and more about what it’s doing for people. People are galvanized. More women are talking about running for office. Where I live, people are talking about setting up political action groups to put pressure on the congressman. That’s happening because of this administration and I’m hopeful about it.


In an essay for The New Yorker you said that Hillary Clinton was “expected to be perfect... in an election that became a referendum on her likability”. You want women to care less about likability but how do we do that and get the top jobs?
I think there are going to have to be a few women who become the sacrificial lambs. By which I mean: I’ve heard from women who’ve said they feel the need to not only smile when they don’t want to smile at work, but to make themselves slightly less intelligent than they are at work. So really it’s just going to be to stop and refuse to pretend. There’s subtle ways to do it – it’s not about civility or kindness, which I think both men and women should have – but maybe it will come with certain unkind labels, like ‘bitch’. The way that, if a women speaks her mind, she’s likely to get labels that a man wouldn’t – and I think just sort of telling oneself that it comes with the territory.

You were once called ‘emotional’ in a Newsnight interview. What other words that are specifically levied at women irk you?
When I hear a woman described as arrogant – I think because I often am – it annoys me because a woman who does not apologise for occupying her space very quickly becomes arrogant, in a way that a man doesn’t. ‘Polarising’. Oh lord. That word was used so often for Hillary Clinton and I remember thinking, ‘What are you really saying when you say this?’ Then on the other hand, words like ‘virtuous’ bother me. And not in all contexts, but also ‘humble’. To apply it to women is often to say there’s something about her that doesn’t threaten and so I’m always wondering what’s behind that.

I’m interested if people expect you to be quite serious when they meet you?
Yes. Somehow they almost expect me not to be really human. So I’ve often been told, “You’re really warm!” And I’ll be like, “Yes! As are all the feminists in the world when you meet them.” [Laughs]

Is it because it’s assumed intelligent people will be a little stuffy and...
Intelligent women. I think it’s gendered. Which is in some ways why I even internalise those ideas... if I consider myself as a serious writer, and that I want to be seen as a serious writer, I will hide my high heels. You know? There’s a way to be considered a serious woman. Of course, these are views I no longer hold, but it’s out there in the world and we absorb those ideas.


Is it also a reflection of how we expect to see intelligent men? Did you see the clip the other week of the guy being interviewed on BBC World News? [South Korea expert Robert E Kelly was interrupted by his children during a live interview.]
Yeah – and the baby!

It’s like because he’s a ‘serious expert’, he felt he couldn’t show his more human side too.
But children and childcare are not considered traditionally masculine so I think we see intelligent men showing the parts of themselves that are considered traditionally masculine. I also saw that clip and remember thinking what would it have been like if it had been a woman who responded that way during an interview? I’m sure there would have been a lot of hostility towards her.

On Instagram you have 20K followers but have only posted four times. Is it even you?
Really? No, I don’t do Instagram. I’m not very social-media savvy. My niece finds this so funny. She’s like, “I’ll teach you.” But there’s so many different little buttons and things...

What’s your biggest way to waste time if it’s not social media?
Oh, I’ll tell you: online shopping. I can spend my whole damn day looking at things, many of which I don’t actually order.

Is it clothes?
It’s clothes... but it’s also become baby clothes. I know so many baby sites it’s terrible. And you know, the thing for me that’s become wonderful is when I find a site that does women’s clothes and baby clothes, I’m like, yes! But I have phases. Sometimes I’ll spend time looking at make-up. “Does this range have dark shades?” [Laughs]. Other times it’s hair and I’m looking up natural black hair type 4C, and thinking, oh that’s really nice! It’s terrible.

Dress, £1,169, Roksanda, (stylebop.com); shoes, £558, Sergio Rossi (farfetch.com)

Dress, £1,169, Roksanda, (stylebop.com); shoes, £558, Sergio Rossi (farfetch.com)

Do you get told off?
By?

Your husband?
Oh no. He finds it funny because he doesn’t do that. I mean I’m bad but he’s completely clueless. I don’t think that actually, god bless him, he knows what Instagram is. All his free time is spent in the gym. He’s a gym fanatic.

What’s your guilty pleasure, apart from the online shopping?
You know what, I don’t actually believe in the idea of guilty pleasures. I own all my pleasures. None of them are guilty!

What do you enjoy watching?
TV shows? I love Scandinavian shows... Have you seen any?

I’ve seen the one with the jumper... [This I realise is a very vague way of describing Sarah Lund and The Killing, but neither of us can remember which Scandi shows we’ve seen, which takes us off into a few minutes of The Bridge and Borgen, which turns out not to be what she means]. But do you like watching crime?
A certain kind of crime. Increasingly I just don’t want to watch any more where a woman’s body turns up somewhere. I think it’s been done over and over. I think there’s a sense where it almost normalises violence against women. And I know women suffer violence a lot in the world but so do men and maybe we should have a few shows where men are the victims. But yeah... I also like British television. The Fall I like very much, particularly the first season... Gillian Anderson is just sublime. Her acting is flawless. And then looking at that face is also a pleasure. So I like that a lot.


You read Mills and Boon as a teenager. What other books did you enjoy growing up, and what book will you insist your daughter reads?
I loved James Hadley Chase. I feel like this is an author that’s only read by Africans [laughs as I look clueless] but he was an English writer who wrote American crime. It was a series and they had names like, Like A Hole In The Head. Loved them! What book would I want my daughter to read? Chinua Achebe’s Arrow Of God. She wouldn’t have a choice. It’s one of those books that makes clear our history as Nigerians; it humanises and clarifies our experiences.

You speak in public brilliantly. As something that causes many of us anxiety, what tips can you share?
My tips are very cheesy. The first is, be you. And it’s not to say that I don’t get anxious but I always tell myself be true. I also tell myself I don’t have to win everybody over. There are people who are going to disagree and there is going to be criticism, and that’s fine. My attitude from the beginning [has been] I want to wake up the next morning and not feel like I pretended or said what wasn’t authentic.


The next generation

From break-out names to hotly anticipated debuts, these are the authors following in Adichie’s footsteps with their seminal voices

Homegoing

Yaa Gyasi

Named as one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ and a graduate from the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 27-year-old Gyasi’s 2017 debut Homegoing was hailed by critics on its release – and hit the New York Times bestseller list to boot. An ambitious, riveting exploration of slavery from 14 viewpoints, it succeeds in explaining the disastrous racism that pervades modern America while highlighting the impact of human behaviours that continue to ripple down generations. Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Gyasi’s work is about how the political is personal; the big moments are, in fact, the individual’s story.

Homegoing is out now (£9.99, Penguin)

The Essex Serpent

Sarah Perry

There are some writers who have the ability to feed your soul as you read: they educate and entertain simultaneously making you see things from a different perspective – Chelmsford’s own, Sarah Perry is one of these authors. And last year, her gothic second novel, The Essex Serpent, was loved everywhere (it’s one of the front-runners for this year’s Bailey Women’s Prize For Fiction). Set in 1893, the book tells the tale of Cora – an amateur palaeontologist – who investigates reports of a sea serpent in Essex. It’s unsettling, brilliant and Variety named her as one of ‘10 Brits to watch in 2017’. She’s currently working on a third book which she’s called “even more gothic”.

The Essex Serpent (£14.99, Serpent’s Tail) is out now

Stay With Me

Ayobami Adebayo

Tutored by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche at a writers’ workshop in Lagos when she was 19 as well as Margaret Atwood (who offered to introduce her to her literary agent), Adebayo’s novel, Stay With Me, has since won a place on the coveted Baileys longlist (and the even more coveted Stylist’s Book Wars, ahem). It’s the story of a childless couple pushed to increasing lengths by their family and their own expectations and, like Half Of A Yellow Son, it captures Nigeria at a very specific point in its history while exploring the corrosive effect of social expectation on female (and male) psyches. An ambitious debut, Adebayo has only just got started.

Stay With Me (£14.99, Canongate) is out now

The Power

Naomi Alderman

Want a feminist writer who’s not afraid of tackling the biggest problems facing society – then ripping them apart? Then London-based Alderman has cornered the market. Her fourth novel, The Power, is about what would happen if women suddenly found themselves more physically powerful than men – and just as open to corruption. Released last October, it’s an addictive, thought-provoking, but, above all, fun read that references the speculative fiction of The Handmaid’s Tale and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (and is also in-keeping with Alderman’s day job as co-creator of the fitness app, Zombies Run!). It’s also coming to a TV near you after the rights were won in an 11-way bidding war.

The Power (£12.99, Viking) is out now

The Girls

Emma Cline

Snapped up in a £1.6 million, three-book deal, 27-year-old Cline’s debut, The Girls, is a coming-of-age story that nails what it’s like to be a teenage girl set against a Californian Sixties US cult Charles-Manson style. Inevitably, the book was an easy target for critics and online readers but The Girls has proved to be a massive hit both critically and culturally (it was the bestselling UK hardback of 2016). What makes Cline such an exciting talent for the 21st century is that she takes her young female characters and gives them agency – they might not use it wisely – but it’s all theirs.

The paperback of The Girls is out 4 May (£5.99, Chatto & Windus)

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

Thomas is giving a voice to the black experience in the US right now and her empathetic debut, The Hate U Give, is currently number one on the New York Times’ young adult bestseller list. Inspired by the “anger, frustration and hurt” that Thomas felt after the killing of Oscar Grant in 2011, it’s the story of Starr, the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend by a police officer. With film rights optioned (Hunger Games’ Amandla Stenberg is attached to star) and a spin-off book in the works, Thomas is placing a spotlight on #BlackLivesMatter at a point in history when it matters most.

The Hate U Give (£7.99, Walker Books) is out 6 April

Conversations With Friends

Sally Rooney

If we called Irish writer Sally Rooney’s debut the equivalent to discovering Zadie Smith then you’d probably roll your eyes. But keep an eye out this June for Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, which was acquired by publisher Faber in a heated bidding war. Sharp, funny and clever, it addresses big ideas (sex, love, relationships, feminism, work) while exploring the disintegrating friendship of joined-at-the-hip, Frances and Bobbi – this is a writer not just tackling her characters’ lives but the topics that define life itself.

Conversations With Friends is out 1 June (£12.99, Faber)

See What I Have Done

Sarah Schmidt

The buzz building around Schmidt’s Lizzie Borden-inspired debut is intense; even a rival publisher has admitted to thinking it’s one of the best books they’ve read (and they never admit that). If you’re not familiar with Lizzie, she was accused of killing her father and stepmother in Massachusetts in 1892, but what sets Schmidt apart from other thriller writers is her way with words: describing the bloody mess of murder and a twisted family with poetic glee. In fact, the whole novel is a dark, dense visceral ride that proves this former librarian from Melbourne could be on course to become one of the breakout writers of the decade. Donna Tartt, make room…

See What I Have Done is out 2 May (£12.99, Tinder)

The Things We Thought We Knew

Mahsuda Snaith

Some of the most affecting writers – Chimamanda, Eimear McBride, Anne Tyler – have a knack for tackling tragedy through domestic detail and their characters’ everyday humour; Snaith is one of those writers. Named as one of The Guardian’s ones to watch for 2017, Snaith’s debut novel, The Things We Thought We Knew, fuses life’s big themes with daily minutiae as it tells the story of Ravine, stuck in her mother’s council flat suffering from chronic pain syndrome since the disappearance of her childhood best friend. Coming from the publisher behind Paula Hawkins and Kate Atkinson, Snaith is one to watch.

The Things We Thought We Knew is out 15 June (£12.99, Transworld)


Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (£10, 4th Estate), is out now

Additional words: Francesca Brown
Hair: Charlotte Mensah using Charlotte Mensah’s Manketti Oil shampoo and conditioner and Charlotte Mensah’s Manketti Hair Oil
Make-up: Kenneth Soh at Frank Agency using La Mer and Mac Cosmetics
Nails: Sophia Stylianou at Frank Agency using YSL Beauty
Styling assistant: Caitlin Jones
Shot on Location and with thanks to: One Aldwych Hotel, onealdwych.com

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From Madonna’s touching tribute to a Cruel Intentions reunion

by Nicola Colyer
19 Oct 2017

Anna Faris understands why people were obsessed with her relationship

She and Chris Pratt were often hailed as #relationshipgoals

by Amy Swales
19 Oct 2017

Cher is starring in the Mamma Mia! sequel and we can’t wait for 2018

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

by Susan Devaney
18 Oct 2017

Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey shares shocking sexual harassment story

“I got in my car and cried”

by Susan Devaney
18 Oct 2017

Jennifer Lawrence was forced into a naked line-up by a producer

In the name of weight-loss “inspiration”

by Amy Swales
17 Oct 2017

Abigail Breslin’s photo reveals how domestic abuse can stay with you

The actor has opened up about the realities of living with PTSD

17 Oct 2017

“Why Liar is proof that TV's depiction of rape is damaging to women”

The proliferation of rape in TV and film is a real problem for the representation of women

by Harriet Hall
17 Oct 2017

Nigella Lawson reveals why red is the ultimate foodie colour

As she tracks her gastronomic love affair with all things crimson

by Stylist
17 Oct 2017