The biggest surprise about Beyoncé's new album for fans of books in 2013? The appearance of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on "Flawless."
"Flawless" is a reworking of "Bow Down," a song Beyoncé released earlier this year. The major addition is an excerpt from a TEDxEuston talk Adichie gave last April, entitled "We Should All Be Feminists."
Adichie was born in Enugu in 1977. She came to the United States at the age of 19 for university. She published her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, in 2003.
Americanah, published last May, is her third novel. It was named one of the 10 best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. Earlier this year, Adichie became involved in a literary spat over a remark she made in an interview with the Boston Review about the Caine Prize, an award given out for African writing. She referred to one of the nominees as "one of my boys in my workshop." A number of male writers caught feelings. There's a good summary of the beef here, but in short it demonstrates just the kind of confidence that makes Adichie a good partner for Beyoncé.
Here is the excerpt from Adichie's TED talk that's used on "Flawless":
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls,"You can have ambition. But not too much. You should aim to be successful. But not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man."
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach to aspire to marriage and we don't teach boys the same? We raise girls to each other as competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.
Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.