Challenge: A Book from An Author You Love But You Haven’t Read Yet
Have any of you read Americanah? It was written by the Nigerian authoress Chimamanda Ngoze Adiche and was quite fascinating; I took it with me everywhere to read. Even those five minutes spent chewing on crackers before I went to play more Sims. Before I started the novel, I knew that immigrants had a difficult time adjusting on foreign shores but I was unaware of the depth of discomfort. Americanah was truly an eye-opener.
SPOILER-FREE REVIEW: What can I say? I like you enough.
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. Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.
Americanah centered around the lives of Obinze and Ifemelu, two Nigerians who first met and fell in love in secondary school. From the start, I loved reading about these two characters but sometimes, Ifemelu and her decisions–especially her decisions about men–had me shaking my head in frustration.
Anyway, her intimate relationships were trivial compared to the other issues the authoress addresses in the novel.
Its the complexity that made this novel so intriguing. One minute, Ifemelu or Obinze is having a relationship/intimacy issue and the next, we’re fed instances of never-ending, long-standing social issues. There isn’t just one set dynamic in the book. It’s a book about love, race, immigrant prejudices and returnee-immigrant prejudices all rolled up into one bundle. It gets intense.
High Point: The struggles Ifemlu and Obinze went through to be accepted onto foreign shores, I know, would hit home for many immigrants. Their experiences became the Immigrant Guide 101 and I will never forget all that I have learned. It’s not easy when you’re a non-Black American/British immigrant. You not only have to adjust to the country’s general status quo, you also have to adjust to the black status quo to even feel camaraderie.
And I’m not saying that black Americans/black British folk are reticent and inhospitable to black immigrants but there are stark differences between them. Nigeria and America are two different countries with different philosophies on race. Ifemelu once spoke about not being labelled black until she went to America. She had to learn those differences and she was kind enough to share them with the rest of the world.
Low Point: I loved learning about the foreign experiences of the two protagonists but when they finally reunited…well, I’m still a romantic. I wanted something more than a flash forwarded narration. In my opinion, the love between them was narrated at the beginning of the plot in great detail. I only hoped the reunion would have just as much detail. Anyway, I’m not picky. I did like the ending. Open-ended ones are always the most interesting.
Click HERE to learn more about my 2015 reading challenge.