The so-called ‘Winner of Winners’ award was designed to celebrate the 25 writers who have won The Women’s Prize For Fiction since it was founded in 1995.
Thirteen years after she first won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s critically acclaimed novel Half Of A Yellow Sun has been named the ‘Winner of Winners’ of the literary award after a public vote.
The one-off prize, which was held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the award, saw over 8000 readers vote for their favourite of the prize’s 25 winners. Adichie’s novel beat the likes of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, the late Andrea Levy’s Small Island and Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin to win the award.
Adichie’s haunting novel – which was first published in 2006 – follows the lives of three central characters as they navigate life during the Biafran War in Nigeria.
Featuring topics including the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class, race, female empowerment and love, the novel was adapted into a film starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2013.
Speaking to Stylist on the 10th Anniversary of Half Of A Yellow Sun back in 2016, Adichie said she believes the story still resonates with readers because it explores a lot of themes which are still prevalent today.
“People often talk about it being ‘set in the past,’ but the thing is, I don’t think it actually is,” she said at the time. “There is a lot that’s present in Nigerian society today that is rooted in that period around the Biafran War.”
She continued: “As well as wanting to get historical details accurate, I wanted to write a book about human desire. All readers can connect to this, purely by being human.”
Since her win in 2007 at the age of 29, Adichie has become an international bestseller and her work – which includes her 2013 novel Americanah and her 2014 essay We Should All Be Feminists – continues to be read all over the world. Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, was published in 2017.
Most recently, it was announced that Americanah was being adapted into a mini-series for HBO starring the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Uzo Abuda and Zackary Momoh.
Responding to the award from her home in Lagos, Nigeria, Adichie said she was “especially moved” to be named the ‘Winner of Winners’ because “this is the Prize that first brought a wide readership to my work – and has also introduced me to the work of many talented writers.”
Reflecting on Adichie’s win, Kate Mosse – who founded The Women’s Prize for Fiction back in 1995 and remains the award’s director – said she was “thrilled” that Half Of A Yellow Sun was being introduced to “a new generation of readers” thanks to the Prize.
She continued: “Our aim has always been to promote and celebrate the classics of tomorrow today and to build a library of exceptional, diverse, outstanding international fiction written by women.”
Images: Manny Jefferson/4th Estate