Fiction writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of twenty-five individuals from a variety of professional fields to receive a $500,000 "genius" fellowship from the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation. MacArthur president Jonathan Fanton said the winners received a phone call last week informing them that they would receive the unconditional "no strings attached" support over the next five years.
Adiche, who lives in Columbia, Maryland, is the author of many short stories and two novels: Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf, 2006) and Purple Hibiscus (Algonquin Books, 2003). The MacArthur Foundation described her in a press release as a fiction writer "exploring the circumstances that lead to ethnic conflict in richly imagined novels and stories inspired by events in her native Nigeria." The thirty-one-year-old told the New York Times that she was celebrating her birthday and taking a bath when she received the phone call.
Over seven hundred and fifty individuals have received MacArthur Fellowships since 1981. Past recipients include poets Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, and Mark Strand, and fiction writers Lydia Davis, Stuart Dybek, Thomas Pynchon, and the late David Foster Wallace.
The MacArthur Foundation is named after John D. MacArthur (1897-1978), the founder of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, and his wife Catherine (1909-1981).