Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s literary agency has fiercely dimissed “delusional” claims that her award-winning novel Half of a Yellow Sun was plagiarised.
Nigerian-Welsh author Anne Giwa-Amu alleged in a YouTube video uploaded on Saturday that Half of a Yellow Sun plagiarises her own debut novel, Sade, which was published in 1996. In the video, Giwa-Amu describes Adichie’s book as “a rewrite of Sade” and says that “no one should profit from stealing another person’s work”. She uploaded a lengthy document to her website, laying out what she called “similarities” between the two novels.
Sade is set during the Biafran war and follows the mixed-race daughter of a Nigerian supreme court judge, who falls for a barrister who is engaged. Adichie’s Orange prize-winning novel, published in 2006, follows lives torn apart by the Biafran war, focusing on an educated young woman, her houseboy and her lover, a professor.
A statement from Wylie, Adichie’s literary agents, denied Giwa-Amu’s allegations and said that the author and her publishers “had never heard of Giwa-Amu’s novel until she brought her delusional claim” in 2016, when she first alleged plagiarism.
According to the literary agency, a “professional independent reader” studied both novels and “concluded that there was absolutely no basis for Giwa-Amu’s claim”. But Giwa-Amu continued with it, and in February 2019 her claim was struck out by the court, which found it to be “an abuse of the court’s process”. Giwa-Amu was ordered to pay Adichie and her publishers £14,250, as well as the legal costs incurred by Adichie.
“Her present allegations are false, libellous and constitute a harassment to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Further legal actions are being taken,” said the Wylie Agency, adding: “Till date, Giwa-Amu has not paid the money.”
COVER PHOTO: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, pictured in Paris in January. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images