Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has received an honor few, if any, other authors could lay claim to. For 50 seconds, her voice speaks over the backbeat in pop superstar Beyonce’s 2013 single “Flawless.”

Sampled from a popular TED Talk given earlier that year, Adichie’s part begins, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.’”

Born in Nigeria in 1977, Adichie came to the United States when she was 19 and had her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” published in 2003. Her literary awards include the O. Henry Prize for short fiction and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.

She will give a reading and a talk Nov. 1 at Sweet Briar College in Amherst County. In preparation for the event, all Sweet Briar students were given copies of Adichie’s 2013 novel “Americanah,” a sweeping tale that follows two Nigerian immigrants, one in the U.S., one in London, and the racial issues they encounter as they try to survive in the West. The New York Times declared it one of the year’s top 10 books. Adichie herself was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influentual People in 2015.

For the past two years, Adichie’s essay “We Should All Be Feminists” has been included in Sweet Briar’s orientation materials. Admission to her lecture, which takes place 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Babcock Fine Arts Center, is free. For more information, email or visit

Mike Allen writes the Arts & Extras column for The Roanoke Times. The beat he covers includes visual art, classical music, opera, theater, dance, literature, museums and other arts and cultural nonprofits, and things even more eclectic.

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