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Short Story of the Year

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:07pm

The Headstrong Historian” byChimamanda Adicheis the best short story I have read inThe New Yorkerin years, and in the book I am writing now — on self-experimentation — I will quote from it:

How she had puzzled over words like “wallpaper” and “dandelions” in her textbooks, unable to picture them.

No wonder the author won the Orange Prize last year for her novelHalf of a Yellow Sun.

An essay by Adichie about being called “sister”contains the following:

The word “racist” should be banned. It is like a sweater wrung completely out of shape; it has lost its usefulness. It makes honest debate impossible, whether about small realities such as little boys who won’t say hello to black babysitters or large realities such as who is more likely to get the death penalty.

In college I wrote an essay saying essentially the same thing about the wordscientific— that it was too vague and pompous to be helpful.

A Chimamanda Adiche website.

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