Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah is the nigerian name for people who have gone to the States and return snotty and unable to deal with the local weather. It is also the name of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel about a middle class nigerian woman who immigrates to the USA but returns home looking for happiness. Although the novel is a bit awkwardly designed, it was a very entertaining and educational read.

Americanah is entertaining because the protagonist Ifemelu is not only compassionate but funny and insightful. It has been too long since I actually liked the protagonist of a book! The love story at the center of the novel also helped and so did the witty and enlightening blog posts about race in the US. (This is were the novel gets awkward. The inserted blog posts work well at some points in the book. At other points they reminded me of a very good version of those moral-of-the-story voice-overs bad Hollywood dramas use to wrap up.)

Here comes the educational part: Americanah does a lot of detailed social observation and whether you are a Senegalese hair braider or a German-American academic, you’ll probably feel caught out a couple of times while reading it. Yes, I might have said something like “its complicated” and “its often about class” when talking about race. And I am embarassed at how much I loved Obama’s Philadelphia speech until one of Adichie’s characters put it into perspective for me.

To conclude this amateur review: Read!


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