…Including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

For the Marie Claire’s special immigration report to celebrate the talents and contributions of women with roots in foreign lands…

OCCUPATION: Writer.

BEST KNOWN FOR: Purple Hibiscus (2003); Half of a Yellow Sun (2006); Americanah (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction; and We Should All Be Feminists (2014), based on her 2012 TEDx speech of the same name that was sampled by Beyoncé on “Flawless.”

BIRTHPLACE: Enugu, Nigeria.

CURRENT RESIDENCES: Baltimore and Lagos.

HER ROOTS: One of six children, Adichie grew up in Nsukka, Nigeria, in a house once occupied by Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart. Her father worked at the University of Nigeria as a professor of statistics and later as its deputy vice chancellor, her mother was an administrator, and Adichie herself later studied medicine there. But all she wanted was to read and write stories. “I came to the U.S. to flee the study of medicine,” she says. “My sister, a physician with dual Nigerian-American citizenship—she was born in the U.S. when my father was getting his Ph.D. at Berkeley—had moved to the U.S. So I had family in the U.S.,” the writer says. “I decided to take the SAT. I got a scholarship and came to the U.S. to study communication and political science.”

HER IDENTITY: “My primary identity shifts based on the context. I am Igbo, Nigerian, African, pan-African, black, feminist,” says Adichie, 40, who has permanent-resident status in the U.S. “I am also a dreamer, a question asker, a stroyteller, a student of life, a believer in the dignity of every human being.”

TO ME, AMERICA MEANS: “A place where once-shiny things have tarnished and are in dire need of being made shiny again.”

HER WORDS: In Americanah (which Lupita Nyong’o will be making as a TV miniseries), Adichie relates wise words about connecting with communities different than one’s own: “If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more.”

SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT NIGERIA: “It is the most populated nation in Africa.”

ON BEING ASKED, WHERE ARE YOU FROM?: “It depends on the subtext and context. Sometimes it comes from genuine curiosity, which is welcome, and I am happy to talk about where I am from. Other times it is code for ‘You do not belong.’ And in such cases, my response is ‘The moon.’

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