Chimamanda Adichie has been very news-worthy lately and as we countdown the days till we can watch ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ on the big screens we take a look back at one of the best books released last year. The Nigerian author released ‘Americanh’ last year and regardless of the bulk and price people jumped at getting the book. Yours truly was one of them.
Even though Americanah is not the most recent book I’ve read it stays fresh in my head and in need of a review on this platform.
If you missed last week’s review of Toni Kan’s ‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’ check it out here, and if you have suggestions on books you’d love to see reviewed drop a comment or send a mail to [email protected]
I have loved Chimamanda since forever and loved her previous works so I was pretty excited to get my hands on ‘Americanah’ when it first came out with thoughts of it being just as engaging, stimulating and educative as her other books.
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. [Amazon]
Chimamanda has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”. The Nigerian author was born in the city of Enugu, she grew up the fifth of six children in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka. The 36-year-old author’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).
Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film starring Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA award winner Thandie Newton and is set for release in 2014. Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories.
Americanah is her fourth book.
Review – Spoiler Alert!!
Americanah is a book that was quite an impressive read. Chimamanda’s ability to create several stories interwoven into one character was amazing. Ifemelu was able to take us through the difficulties of regrowing one’s hair, interracial relationships, domestic help, love, and so much more. It was amazing how everything, all the stories were smoothly told.
It is also very very easy to relate to the stories being told. These are things we see around us and feel personally too. The cheating husband? The talkative hairdresser? The friend who just got back? Chimamanda fuses the stories to be realities; there are realities of love, realities of race and realities of life.
Edem Torkonoo of Ayiba Magazine states “Americanah may be about a Nigerian character but it ends up echoing the story of the afropolitan. It’s the story of the immigrant who wants to go home and feels trapped in the rat race that is the American way of life. It’s the story of the girl or boy who came to get a degree, finds a successful job and is wondering if it’s time to go back home. It’s the story that leaves you comforted and conflicted at the same time. It gets you thinking about where you want to establish your roots as a young person who leaves home too early. It’s the story that feels all too familiar.”
These words are true. ‘Americanah’ is that book that you have lived through before even finishing it. It’s a must read I think.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the focus on Ifemelu’s return. The transition from and Americanah back to a Lagosian was interesting to see. The way her return was chronicled was just too real.
What I Liked About The Book
A lot was expected from Chimamanda Adichie for this novel and in several ways I think that she delivered. I liked that we were taking her characters away from the rural Nigerian setting she favoured in her past two books and into more developed places. That was a nice twist for the book and the pace of the book was easy to keep up with – as big as that book is/was I couldn’t but it down till I finished it; simply captivating.
Have you read the book, let us know your thoughts!by