Notes on Grief

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A devastating essay on loss and the people we love from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

‘Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language’

On 10 June 2020, the scholar James Nwoye Adichie died suddenly in Nigeria.

In this tender and powerful essay, expanded from the original New Yorker text, his daughter, a self-confessed daddy’s girl, remembers her beloved father. Notes on Grief is at once a tribute to a long life of grace and wisdom, the story of a daughter’s fierce love for a parent, and a revealing examination of the layers of loss and the nature of grief.

Reviews of Notes on Grief

    • Praise for Notes on Grief
    • ‘Both emotional and austere, a work of dignity and of unravelling’ Guardian
    • ‘With raw eloquence, Adichie’s observations have, simultaneously, an academic detachment and an inescapable anguish at being “in the centre of this churning” with “porous edges that there is no way through” … Notes on Grief is both achingly personal and stunningly familiar to anyone who has felt that scattering’ Independent
    • ‘An exquisite howl of pain written in the aftermath, last year, of the unexpected death of her father’ Telgraph
    • ‘Notes on Grief is a moving account of a daughter’s sorrow and it is also a love letter to the one who has gone. … She is saying don’t go and she is saying goodbye and she is also saying sorry’ Observer
    • ‘In 30 short sections, Notes on Grief lays a path by which we might mourn our individual traumas among the aggregate suffering of this harrowing time.’ New York Times
    • ‘Feels raw, even for a book about grief … It is no salve for her own grief, but Adichie’s brave observance of her own pain, will be a gift to those also suffering their first year of loss in these strange times’ iNews
    • ‘When you send a great writer into the valley of the dead, the reportage is better quality. In 1961 CS Lewis wrote A Grief Observed of the year after the death of his wife; in 2005 Joan Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking about the same time span after the death of her husband. Into this tradition falls Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie … For fans of the famously private Adichie – this is fascinatingly intimate. It is also delivered in the most readable, tender bites for any of the many of us whose attention has been shot by the harrowing of this past year’ The Times

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