Book Reviews | Americanah – Chimamanda Adichie

Americanah was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 | Image source: Vogue.Com

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a powerful story of love, race and identity. As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze 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. Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world. ~ via Amazon.com

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Americanah was a birthday present to myself. As a huge fan of Chimamanda Adichie, I was one of the many readers waiting for the book to be available online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I remember announcing to the world in the form of a Facebook status when my copy finally arrived in the mail-I was so excited. And that excitement was well in place, because the author was in many ways, telling my story.There was a deep understanding of complex emotions,dreams and experiences of a young West African woman in the United States. Americanah explores culture shock, racial identity and nostalgia, in a very honest and humorous style. However, I could not identify with certain flaws that the main character Ifemelu has, even though I appreciated that she wasn’t presented as perfect. I did not understand the perfect ease that her interracial relationship seemed to have. The indication that her life in the US suddenly seemed to turn around for the better (financially) because she was dating a white American male, made me worry that the stereotypical African female jezebel/gold digger was being perpetuated. That being said, I do admire the complexity of the characters and the honest but painful truths that Americanah pushes us to explore. ~ Ngozi

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First read and I fell in love with Ifemelu. She is so headstrong and such a smart mouth. One of my all time favourite African female protagonists. Americanah explores culture shock and some of the pressures immigrants go through trying to fit in. The hair stories are so real that I felt Chimamanda was writing about the salon I go to. Furthermore Obinze and Ifemelu’s love story is the perfect backdrop. Anyone who remembers their first love, especially if it was intense, will be able to relate. I have read this book twice already and I look forward to reading it again. ~ Bola

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I think I set my expectations up too high because I jumped on the Americanah bandwagon rather late after hearing so much about it and for that reason, I feel as though the book didn’t deliver. I was too hyped up and it didn’t serve what I was expecting. It was a good read none the less with several angles; the teenage love story, the love and loss story, the natural hair story, the juxtaposition of a developing Nigeria rife with corruption against the story of the African immigrant seeking the American dream. I must however say that Ifemelu’s didactic blog posts were a clever touch by Chimamanda which I enjoyed. For me, that was the best thing about the book and I am so excited about her new blog; The Small Redemptions of Lagos which she writes in the persona of Ifemelu. She seems to have picked up where Americanah left off and I am hooked. ~ Kaydee


NEXT: Ghana Must Go

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