Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What to Expect:

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, ‘Americanah’ is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

I’m doing a mini-review for this one as it’s not at all frothy, but it’s a must-read and there’s no way I can do it justice. The title refers to the nickname given to Nigerians who return home from time in America, full of the culture and accent and feeling a little superior to their compatriots. Ifemelu is decidedly different, she made a conscious decision not to adopt an American accent and began a blog in America with an outsider’s social commentary, majoring in Race, with a side degree in Hair.

It’s a big saga, although we meet Ifemelu as she’s deciding to return to Nigeria we have flashbacks to her childhood, her student years, her decision to go to the US, her life and relationships there, and her turning point. We also have her childhood sweetheart Obinze, his time as an illegal in the UK, and his success back home. Finally we find out what happens when they are both back home, struggling to find their place now that they are equipped with new perspectives.

It’s an amazing tale by such a talented writer. The observations by Ifemelu are incredibly astute. Her experiences in the US as a ‘Non American Black’ are wildly different to that of American Blacks, and her blog entries on the subject are fascinating. Ifemelu’s need to return home is the catalyst for the rest of the tale. Give it a shot. I’d never given much thought to most of the topics involved and even I couldn’t put it down- that’s the power of great writing.

Frothy Ranking: 5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:
UK: Amazon for £2.99.

US: Kobobooks for $14.29 and Amazon for $8.99.

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