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adichie-new-story (1)Many of us woke up to Adichie’s account of her struggle with depression, published in The Guardian. The account was beautiful and moving. She shared deeply personal details about her experience with transitioning from denial to the painful recognition that she was in deed suffering from depression.

I actually found the raw honesty of the article extremely powerful. But I won’t lie. I was also a bit startled by it. Fans have become used to the fact that Adichie is quite private when it comes to her personal life. The openness of the essay seemed unusual. Then again, maybe that’s what makes it one of the most accurate descriptions of depression you’ll ever read.

So why did The Guardian make everything all weird by unpublishing the piece a few hours after it was posted? They explained that the piece had to be taken down because it was published due to technical error— without the author’s permission. Not everyone believes it, of course. The sensitive nature of the essay’s content has ignited a bit speculation around Guardian’s decision to unpublish it.

As with all things published online, simply deleting it does not take it out of circulation. People saved the article and are sharing it privately with friends. There are still blogs out there where you can still read the essay in full. Twitter is still buzzing with appreciative fans pouring their hearts out, inspired by the fact that Adichie opened about a condition that is mostly stigmatized in African societies.

As I said earlier, there are those who aren’t quite convinced by Guardian’s explanation. They believe it’s not the full story, that it takes more than a technical error for a major newspaper such as Guardian to unpublished an article. People are also asking: If Adichie wrote the story and sent it in, why would Guardian not already have the permission to post the story? Was it not entirely ready for publication, perhaps, still undergoing revisions? Was the article not meant to be published at all? Did Adichie send it in, and then withdraw it? Was it a timing issue? Maybe the article was meant to be published at a later date?

It’s hard to say. What I know for a fact is that newspapers are extremely reluctant about unpublishing stories. It’s a last resort solution to publishing errors that they would only do on very select circumstances.

The fact that Guardian was so quick to pulled down the piece—12 hours after the initial publication—says that whether we believe the “technical error” explanation or not, Guardian was at fault for putting up the article.

Adichie’s management has since issued a statement that confirms the suspicion that there was more to the matter than “technical error.” See excerpt below:

Many magazines and publications were interested in the essay. One of them was the Guardian. Chimamanda considered their offer and then decided she didn’t want it to be published there. She felt that the Guardian was not the right place for the essay. She declined their offer, and they acknowledged in writing that she had declined.

She planned to publish the essay later this year, when she would have finished other engagements, to give her time to deliver a talk in Nigeria about depression.

She had still not finally decided which publication she would go with when she discovered on Sunday that the essay had been published in the Guardian, with no notice, no permission, nothing. She was shocked.

The Guardian claims it was a technical error. It is not clear how something could have been published, with photographs, due to a technical error. It is possible that The Guardian deliberately published it even though they had been turned down. That way, The Guardian could claim to have been first to publish Africa’s most-internationally recognized novelist writing for the first time on the very personal subject of depression. The Guardian’s action was unethical and possibly illegal. The Guardian has apologized and removed the essay.

Hopefully, we’ll know more with time. As for Adichie’s fans, they’re just hoping that her heartfelt story about depression, which they found endlessly inspiring, is put back up as soon as possible.

 

This article is a developing story and has since been updated to include the statement from Adichie’s management.

 

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Image from Chimamanda Adichie’s fashion blog. {HERE}

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

5 Responses to “How Adichie’s Story About Struggling with Depression Suddenly Got Weird” Subscribe

  1. Eddie Hewitt February 2, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    It was very strange that The Guardian published it late on a Saturday night. Normally they would have such a big piece coincide with the paper the next day, but that would have been the (Sunday) Observer. I was quite taken aback, too. Adichie has always come across as being totally ‘in control’. I feel for her and will support her any way I can (which means at least reading more of her work – there must be something I haven’t read yet!).

  2. Lola February 3, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    Please edit this article.

  3. Oge February 4, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    A gaffe by the Guardian but it really reminded me of what Kurt Vonnegut once said that “you can’t be a writer of good fiction if you are not depressed”. Adichie rightly fits in those lines. I’m still a huge fan of Adichie and though I’ve no published works yet, I know that I’m more inspired during those depressive times.

  4. Lynette February 5, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    When I got the error at THE GUARDIAN on Sunday, but saw the article on a Nigerian blog, I also wondered if she wanted to be more select about who she allowed to publish her story. But, it’s since been removed from that blog as well.

    If depression is, in fact, a largely taboo subject in Nigeria, I now wonder if she had second thoughts about sharing such intimate details about herself–this woman who has a reputation for being private. And given the challenges of confronting such a diagnosis, I think that’s a real possibility. Plus, she seemed to still be in a pretty vulnerable place with that.

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