Multiple award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke on Connecting Cultures at the 2012 Commonwealth Lecture, organised by the Commonwealth Foundation. The event took place on the 15th of March, 2012 Lecture in London and Ms Adichie spoke about the importance of realist literature, insisting that “the role of literature is to instruct and delight.”
In the magnificent setting of the Guildhall in the heart of the City of London, Ms Adichie addressed the 2012 Commonwealth Theme: ‘Connecting Cultures’, explaining that “Realistic fiction is not merely the recording of the real, as it were, it is more than that, it seeks to infuse the real with meaning. As events unfold, we do not always know what they mean. But in telling the story of what happened, meaning emerges and we are able to make connections with emotive significance. The world of realist literature is not the same as the real world, but it is close enough, aligned enough, to the real world to be able to illuminate it. And it is books of that sort that I would like to make a case for today.”
Ms Adichie reminded the Commonwealth that it is a common assumption that our collective humanity is self-evident, explaining that “when we read human stories, we become alive in bodies not our own. Literature is in many ways like faith: it is a leap of imagination. Both reading and writing require an imaginative leap and it is that imaginative leap that enables us to become alive in bodies not our own. It seems to me that we live in a world where it has become increasingly important to try and live in bodies not our own, to embrace empathy, to constantly be reminded that we share, with everybody in every part of the world, a common and equal humanity.” She went on to clarify that this is not a suggestion that we are all the same, instead, “Literature is indeed about how we are different, but also how, in those differences, we are similar.” Watch the full lecture below.