Saturday, April 25, 2015


Americanah is a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was recommended to me by a parent of a prospective student at my university.   As I was reading it a number of people who saw me with the book mentioned it had also been highly recommended to them.

My take is that the book is not so extra. It reads as more of a memoir than a novel. It may not be. It could be pure fiction. However, there are a number of similarities between the author's life and the main character's.

Americanah has several components. It is about life and culture in Nigeria; the tribulations of living in the United States and in England as a Nigerian: relationships with an aunt and cousin; two American romances; and a long term love affair.

Each of these are interesting, but the book does not gel.  Yes, they all help depict how Ifemelu--the main character--evolves, but they might as well have been discrete entries with one thread--the long term love affair--throughout.  We read about a friendship with an employer and then suddenly she disappears and never returns.  One of the love affairs seems unlikely to have developed/ended as it did.  A near tragedy with the aunt/cousin is not explored completely.  The long term love affair, while sweet, is not particularly unusual.

I liked the writing style and feel like I know about Nigeria in a way that I did not know before.  The author's descriptions in each episode are good and I like the way she portrayed several characters which seem spot on, especially Blaine, her father, Kosi, and Emenike.  The presentation of the difficulties of finding work in America for a Nigerian and the humiliating/depressing racism that the character endures was illuminating--almost worth the read itself.

If you are interested in learning about Nigeria and reading about a long term relationship interrupted by others of lesser consequence, then I would recommend the book.  But if you want a crafted novel with related plot lines, you may be disappointed.

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