Book Review: “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

Genre: Fiction, African-American,

Book Length: 496 Pages (Hardcover Edition)

Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. (description from Amazon)

Review:

Another great read from my Ethnic lit class that I’m taking! This novel is way out of my (per say) comfort zone or what I’m used to regularly reading. I really enjoyed it as I not only liked the storyline, but also for the way it challenged me to think about things differently and come away from the book with new views on society. Adichie is known for her other novels as well, but this I the first novel I’ve heard about and read by her. First off, I thought her writing style was detailed. I really like the how the main characters, Obinze and Ifemelu were developed, as well as others. I thought it was really unique how she mixed the main narrative with Ifemelu’s race blog.

Ifemelu’s race blog was interesting and along with her voice in the novel, it was her place where she spoke her mind, when she couldn’t with others because they wouldn’t understand  her or thought she was being too judgmental. It was like reading a diary full of emotions as well as personal opinions. The story is written in the present, but we travel back to Ifemelu’s past as she tells us the story of her life in Nigeria; meeting Obinze and living in America. The story goes on like this until the point where she is heading back to Nigeria for a new job . And finally, in the last bit of the book is where we really get to see Ifemelu’s current life and self.

The thing I enjoyed  the most about this book is the big question of “what does it mean to be an American?”. I got to see America through the eyes of a foreigner and how they felt about our customs, food, city life, etc. I even had myself question what is the definition of being an “American”. But, I couldn’t come up with a definite answer.

Final Verdict:

“Americanah” is not only a powerful love story, but a commentary on society and how we live today. I like the mix of narrative with the main protagonist’s, Ifemelu’s blog, and how it made me think. This is a great book and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars of 5!

7 thoughts on “Book Review: “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  1. An ethnic literature class sounds like it would be very interesting. From your review, even though the protagonist is Nigerian, the themes of the book seem to be about American attitudes. We have a great deal of difficulty talking about race in America, and as someone who is not a person of color, I try to acknowledge as respectfully as possible that I cannot have the experiences necessary to authentically speak about racial issues, while at the same time I wonder how we can ever build a fairer and more equitable world when we cannot seem to talk about them together. I would welcome your perspective.

    1. I feel that Ifemelu, the main protagonist, of the book brings up, a good point. Basically throughout the book in her race blog she brings up the issue that Americans try to gloss over everything and don’t stop to really look at problematic issues. I agree wholeheartedly that race is an issue that people need to stop avoiding and sit down and talk about it. Ifemelu says that in order for there to be a more equal world, that people need to address issues of race in order to become more equal. This is how I feel as well. I like your perspective as well.

      1. I agree that as a culture we often gloss over anything difficult – if it can’t be said in a sound bite, or solved during a half-hour sitcom, we don’t have the patience, or maybe the attention span, to think about it. And our discussions (on so many issues ) seem designed to polarize one group against another as strongly as possible. There is such a history behind racial issues, pain and mistrust and sometimes hate, that it is not possible to fix with one conversation or one law or one program. But does that mean we shouldn’t try? Perhaps we ought to listen to the difficult things others have to say, with no more agenda than understanding and the development of empathy, to the extent it is possible. If we spent a couple of decades doing that, would it help? Or is it part of the pain that nothing substantive really gets done without anger?

        1. I agree, that a good point you made about the attention span of people today. It’s good for people to just sit down and listen to the difficult things people have to say and understand why they feel this way. I think that would definitely help.

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