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'Becoming' Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
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Michelle Obama’s debut memoir ‘Becoming’ is the fastest-selling book of the year and with tickets to the London leg of her European tour selling out within minutes, it’s clear the former US First Lady has an enduring popularity.

 

Obama, 54, sat down with Nigerian novelist and moderator Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her lecture at a packed auditorium at London's Royal Festival Hall, to discuss women, race, and life in Washington.

Before a 2,700-strong audience, including 300 schoolchildren, and mayor Sadiq Khan, she offered a refreshingly honest, frank - and at times funny - account of her life. 

She also admitted she still grapples with ‘imposter syndrome’. "It never goes away, that feeling that you shouldn't take me that seriously,” she said. “I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.

"If I'm giving people hope then that is a responsibility, so I have to make sure that I am accountable. We don't have any choice but to make sure we elders are giving our young people a reason to hope."

HEALTHY RIVALRY

As well as reminiscing about her meetings with the Queen – including bonding over their aching feet during the Obama’s state visit to the UK – she also opened up about her upbringing in Chicago. By allowing her to question things, her parents encouraged her to value her own voice and opinions. 

“My mother would always tell me, ‘I'm raising adults I'm not raising babies’. It so was never 'speak only when spoken to', she encouraged us to let our voices be heard… One of the things my parents believed was that my voice was relevant and my opinions were meaningful. And my anger and frustration was real.”

While ‘Becoming’ has already sold over three million copies and is published in some 24 languages, the mother of two reveals there’s a “rivalry” with husband Barack, who is still penning his memoirs about his White House years, with a projected publication date of 2019.

“He's a little jealous that I am done,” she said. “There is a little hateration going on. He's very proud, but his book is hanging over his head right now. So, yes, we have a healthy rivalry.

“But he is truly the writer. I'm more of the storyteller. I wanted this book to read like a story, because I wanted people, particularly young people, to just get lost in the journey.”

Obama received a standing ovation for a talk many in the audience described as “inspirational”.