The public chose Chimamanda’s novel over a stellar-line up including Zadie Smith, the late Andrea Levy, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, and Maggie O’Farrell, amongst others.
This one-off award marks the culmination of the Prize’s year-long 25th-anniversary celebrations, forming a key part of our Reading Women campaign which champions a quarter of a century of phenomenal winners.
Throughout 2020, thousands of readers embarked on a challenge to read all 25 previous winners of the Prize, joining the Prize’s digital book club to share their thoughts, and downloading our newly created online reading guides and exclusive author interviews. Over 8,500 people joined in the public vote in September.
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s haunting novel, originally won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then the Orange Prize) in 2007. Set in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the novel is about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class, race, and female empowerment – and how love can complicate all of these things. First published in 2006, it garnered critical and popular acclaim around the world and was adapted into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton in the lead roles and was released worldwide in 2013.
Chimamanda, who is currently in Lagos, Nigeria, thanked the Prize for this special award. ‘I’m especially moved to be voted ‘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.’ Adichie will be presented with a specially-commissioned silver edition of the Prize’s annual statuette, known as the ‘Bessie’, which was originally created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven as part of the gift of an anonymous donor.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will talk further about her writing and being chosen for the ‘Winner of Winners’ award in an exclusive live online event hosted by Founder Director Kate Mosse and the Women’s Prize for Fiction on Sunday 6 December at 7 pm GMT. Tickets are available via the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s website.
Waterstones and Adichie’s UK publisher 4th Estate have created an exclusive hardback special edition of Half of a Yellow Sun, available from Waterstones priced at £18.99, from Wednesday 25 November. The book will also be available to purchase as part of the online live event.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction founder and director, novelist and playwright Kate Mosse said: ‘I am thrilled that Half of a Yellow Sun has won the silver Winner of Winners. 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. The ‘Reading Women’ campaign has been the perfect way to introduce a new generation of readers to the brilliance of all of our twenty-five winners and to honor the phenomenal quality and range of women’s writing from all over the world. Congratulations to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and here’s to our next quarter-century!’
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in numerous publications. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus, published in 2003, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize in 2005 and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
As well as winning the Women’s Prize in 2007, Half of a Yellow Sun (published in 2006) was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. Her story collection The Thing Around Your Neck was published to critical acclaim in 2009 and her latest novel Americanah, was published around the world in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize (then the Bailey’s Women’s Prize) in 2014. The book received numerous other accolades, including winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction. Americanah was also named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.
Her non-fiction includes the book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists, published in 2014, and her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, published in 2017. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded for the best full-length novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom. The Prize champions excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing, and the winner receives a cheque for £30,000, anonymously endowed, along with a limited edition bronze statuette known as the ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.
In 2018, the price reverted to its original name – The Women’s Prize for Fiction. The Prize was previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction between 1996–2012 and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction from 2013–2017.
Since 2018 the Women’s Prize for Fiction has been supported by a family of sponsors, a group of leading brands and businesses from different sectors, rather than by a single title sponsor. The Women’s Prize Trust was awarded charitable status in 2018.