The 3-year feud between Chimamanda Adichie and Elnathan John opened a new chapter with Elnathan strongly suggesting that Adichie’s camp tried to sabotage his career by blacklisting him in global literary circles.
These accusations come right after what looks like an open confrontation between Binyavanga Wainaina—one of Adichie’s BFFs—and Elnathan at a literary event in Berlin.
It is no secret that Adichie and Elnathan are not on friendly terms. For a detailed account of the 3-year old saga, click here. Every one dates their feud to July 2013 when Elnathan clapped back at Adichie for calling him “my boy,” a term that he felt was demeaning. But in an interview with Olisa TV, Adichie traces things as far back as her encounters with Elnathan during a Farafina workshop. Again, for those interested in the long history of the quarrel, click here.
Elnathan as has been generally silent about the feud. Even after Adichie’s tell-all interview, he did not make any public response, at least, none that we know of. The run-in with Binyavanga may have prompted him to open up. In a series of tweets posted earlier today, he claims that attempts were made to ruin his writing career.
“They put a literary hit on me,” he tweets, “and it failed. Woefully. And he [Binyavanga] even admitted it.” It appears that during the confrontation in Berlin, Elnathan says to Binyavanga: “You people thought you could block my work.” And Binyavanga responds: “I blocked you, not your work,” @BinyavangaW. Elnathan presents this exchange as proof that there were attempts to “blacklist” him in the global literary circuit.
“What makes @BinyavangaW think he runs African literature?,” Elnathan asks, “That if he tells white people don’t do anything with Elnathan they will all listen.
Binyavanga did have his say in a series of tweets in which he compares Elnathan to Donald Trump and accuses him of trying to profit from “[bringing] Adichie down.”
We are really hoping that both parties can sort out their differences. The African literary community is far too small for this kind of drama. We should be working together not unleashing hurtful remarks that could permanently damage relationships. Nothing good can come out of us clawing at each other. It is unfortunate that Elnathan feels targeted and threatened by Adichie’s supporters. But then is Elnathan’s suggestion that Binyavanga and Adichie are running some kind of literary mafia not taking things too far?
Guys, please let’s bury the hatchet and move on to greater things.