Chimamanda Adichie’s first novel Purple Hibiscus (2003) has won the 2017 “One Maryland, One Book” initiative. This is Adichie’s second win in a US statewide reading program, coming weeks after her third novel Americanah won the “One Book, One New York” initiative.
The “One Maryland, One Book” initiative, organised for the State of Maryland in the US, is in its tenth year. The selection was based on the program’s 2017 theme of “Home and Belonging” and involved a committee of educators, librarians, authors and bibliophiles who considered more than 120 books in February.
Commenting on the choice, Maryland Humanities Executive Director Phoebe Stein said:
Our One Maryland One Book program brings diverse groups of Marylanders together in thoughtful discussion of the same book. Purple Hibiscus—a powerful coming-of-age novel that explores this year’s theme of home and belonging, along with resonant themes like faith, family, and freedom—will no doubt spark illuminating conversations throughout Maryland.
On her win, Adichie, who is expected to undertake a tour to promote the novel in the state, has this to say:
I’m pleased and honored that Purple Hibiscus will be read by many people in the state I call my American home. Literature should ‘instruct and delight’ and I truly hope Marylanders will enjoy reading it.
It is timely, this return of Purple Hibiscus in the Great Adichie Novel conversation, the first novel whose shine seemed to have been scrambled off it by the massive successes of her sister books, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. Published by Algonquin Books in October of 2003, the novel won the 2004 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Best Debut Fiction and the 2005 Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book. But its biggest moment was its shortlisting for the 2004 Orange Prize and longlisting for the 2004 Booker Prize. It was further shortlisted for the 2004/2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and nominated for the 2004 Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Best Book for Young Adults.
Cassava Republic, Nigeria’s leading publishing house, notes in a 2013 article how the novel’s success and the support it received partly inspired the involvement of the NLNG in Nigerian literature. Given its prominence on school curricula, Purple Hibiscus is perhaps her most read book in Nigeria—and the most pirated.