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Read “Apollo”, a New Short Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Published in The New Yorker

The New Yorker has published a new short story by Nigerian literary darling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in their latest issue. The story is titled “Apollo” and tells of Okenwa, a young man who visits his elderly parents, only to find that the way he relates to them has changed dramatically.

Willing Davidson spoke to the author to find out more about the characters in “Apollo”, the condition the title refers to and the undercurrent of attraction that is so evident in the story, albeit in a subtle way.

“I am drawn as a reader to stories of childhood told in an adult voice, stories full of the melancholy beauty of retrospect. I am interested in the regrets we carry from our childhoods, in the idea of ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’ A novel I love, ‘The Go-Between,’ by LP Hartley, does this very well,” Adichie says.

Read the short interview:

Raphael eventually contracts conjunctivitis. In the story, the condition is called “Apollo.” Where does this name come from?

In Nigeria—and in some other parts of Africa—Apollo is the colloquial term for conjunctivitis. I remember a friend telling me, in primary school, that it was called Apollo because the men who went to the moon had returned with the red-eyed infection. This friend and I had just had Apollo, and it was perhaps her way of making our plight seem special.

Read the story:

Twice a month, like a dutiful son, I visited my parents in Enugu, in their small overfurnished flat that grew dark in the afternoon. Retirement had changed them, shrunk them. They were in their late eighties, both small and mahogany-skinned, with a tendency to stoop. They seemed to look more and more alike, as though all the years together had made their features blend and bleed into one another. They even smelled alike—a menthol scent, from the green vial of Vicks VapoRub they passed to each other, carefully rubbing a little in their nostrils and on aching joints. When I arrived, I would find them either sitting out on the veranda overlooking the road or sunk into the living-room sofa, watching Animal Planet. They had a new, simple sense of wonder. They marvelled at the wiliness of wolves, laughed at the cleverness of apes, and asked each other, “Ifukwa? Did you see that?”

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Related stories:

I Felt Violated: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Reveals Her Anger at The Guardian Over Article on Depression

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Image courtesy of The New Yorker and Riposte Nagazine


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