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NPR interview radio analysis

‘Americanah’ author explains ‘learning’ to be black in the US

What did the interviewer know about the subject before the interview?

She knew her background career and where she performed (In Beyoncé’s track). She knew where she was from, and her feelings about race in America. She also knew about her future projects (her book) and what the material the book was about.

Did the interviewer appear to have a strategy? What kinds of questions did the interviewer ask? How did the interviewer build up to questions?

The interviewer was well aware of this person and well prepped with her questions, I didn’t get a sense of her having a strategy per se, but she seemed to only be asking very deep and personal questions that really got to the root of the issue (Black perception in America). The interviewer built up to questions by first commenting on the interviewee’s previous answer, and then using that information to go on to the next question, which I thought was clever. Some questions asked were:

“You weren’t defined by race when you were in Nigeria, how did things changed when you were defined by being “black” when you came to America?”

“Do you feel like assumptions change about you when a black or white person finds out you are from Nigeria and not from the US?”

“What is the privilege and why do you think there is a sense of privilege”

“So much of America’s history has to do with slavery, and you’re from Nigeria which is a place where a lot of Africans were kidnapped from, was the slave trade apart of what you learned about in school?”

Were there any inadequate or evasive answers? If so, how were they handled?

The interviewee did a very good job at elaborating on all the questions that she was asked. If the interviewer didn’t’ understand something, she would continue to explain until she was sure that she was being understood. When the interviewer wasn’t sure what Chimamanda meant by a certain phrase at one point, she asked her what she meant by that, and Chimamanda talked for about two minutes straight explaining what she had meant by that phrase.

What was the apparent relationship between the interviewer and interviewee?

The relationship seemed very friendly to me for a couple reasons. The interview went off track quite a few times to personal business such as talking about hair, and the personal preference of it. They also shared a few laughs which made it seem a lot friendlier rather than strictly professional.

What did you learn about interviewing from this interview?

I learned that a good way to transition from one question to another is to build off of the previous question’s answer. This makes it flow a lot smoother and gives it a more conversational vibe rather than a “I’m going to ask you lots of questions now” vibe. However for this strategy, you would need to be good at thinking of questions at the top of your head that go well with the answers given to you, rather than have questions prepared. 

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