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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,3002091,706 (4.17)413
"A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected"--
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Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
This book is several things interleaved.

There's a love story with fairly traditional elements of circumstances coming between the lovers.

There's clearly some autobiography, from an author whose own life gives her plenty of material.

There's a lot of exploration of the dislocation of being an immigrant and the ways in which the assumed community of people from the same place easily falls flat. I identified strongly with a surprising amount of that, given that my circumstances are very different from the characters'.

There's a mourning for Nigeria. Just as with Teju Cole's writing, I see so much of my Turkey in the author's Nigeria.

There's an extended essay about race, racism, and especially how those play out in the USA. This is mostly done very well--if the protagonist's blog were real I'd be a subscriber--but towards the end of the US section it starts to feel like a lecture is intruding on the story.

There's an interesting format experiment in which Adichie basically implements Brecht's ideas about giving away the story before telling it so that suspense doesn't interfere with the other things you're supposed to feel. Only Adichie does this far more deftly than Brecht, so it never detracted from the enjoyment of the story.

It does a surprisingly good job of carrying all these elements, albeit at times feeling a little overloaded. I enjoyed reading it and felt at times like it was really hitting hard. ( )
  eldang | Sep 18, 2019 |
It has been a very long time since I've sunk into a book containing prose this rich and dense with meaning and imagery. So much of soi-disant literary fiction is nothing more than the angsty whining of the affluent, white, and powerful that I had forgotten its capacity for realness and complexity.

This was a luxurious read. I savored it over the course of fifteen days—pausing often to examine a revelation, to relish an especially apt turn of phrase, or to simply close my eyes and envision the images painted by her words.

This is a book that I am sad to put down but look forward to reading again in the future to see what an older and more experienced me can find in its pages. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Sep 7, 2019 |
This was a wonderful book and will stick with me for a very long time. It gave me a great deal to think about regarding race, the immigrant experience and our society as a whole. Chimanda Ngozi Adichie is a very perceptive observer and the reader can really see that in her writing. She writes of social conventions very much like Jane Austen but on a much more global scale.

I would recommend this book to anyone.

Why four stars then? (I'd do 4.5 if I could)

Some/many of her supporting characters abruptly left the book without a resolution and I found that a little bothersome. The main character is a Nigerian immigrant, Ifemelu, who, at one point was a nanny to two kids while in college. All of a sudden, she's dating a member of the family and this family with whom she's been working just vanishes.
The book starts with Ifemelu getting her hair braided at an African salon in NJ and the person braiding her hair speaks of her issues finding a husband. The braider confides in Ifemelu that she's having some immigration issues and Ifemelu states that she will be able to assist her as she returns to Nigeria. A family emergency occurs for Ifemelu do I get why she can't deal with the issues her braider presented her but, as a reader, I couldn't help but wonder why even bring it up? Why add this complexity to this character?

This happened enough times for me to raise an eyebrow.

Regardless I'm anxiously awaiting more casting news for the movie. In the mean time, I recommend this to all. Learn of new experiences.
( )
  knittinkitties | Aug 25, 2019 |
This book is several things interleaved.

There's a love story with fairly traditional elements of circumstances coming between the lovers.

There's clearly some autobiography, from an author whose own life gives her plenty of material.

There's a lot of exploration of the dislocation of being an immigrant and the ways in which the assumed community of people from the same place easily falls flat. I identified strongly with a surprising amount of that, given that my circumstances are very different from the characters'.

There's a mourning for Nigeria. Just as with Teju Cole's writing, I see so much of my Turkey in the author's Nigeria.

There's an extended essay about race, racism, and especially how those play out in the USA. This is mostly done very well--if the protagonist's blog were real I'd be a subscriber--but towards the end of the US section it starts to feel like a lecture is intruding on the story.

There's an interesting format experiment in which Adichie basically implements Brecht's ideas about giving away the story before telling it so that suspense doesn't interfere with the other things you're supposed to feel. Only Adichie does this far more deftly than Brecht, so it never detracted from the enjoyment of the story.

It does a surprisingly good job of carrying all these elements, albeit at times feeling a little overloaded. I enjoyed reading it and felt at times like it was really hitting hard. ( )
  eldang | Aug 11, 2019 |
A masterful examination of race as it relates to immigration and the immigrant experience, turned like a gem to see the faceted experience of African immigration/immigrants to Europe, the U.S., and ex pats returning home, all woven together by the story of an intriguing and intelligent protagonist. ( )
  Samberry | Aug 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
The stories have shifted, too. Nowadays, there’s little angsting about national identity in a post-colonial context or, for that matter, over catastrophe and want. Instead, a bevy of young Africans are shaping the future of fiction, reportage and critique on their continent, and perhaps well beyond.

“It’s beyond an evolution — it’s a revolution,” says Nigerian-American Ikhide Ikheloa, a critic and prominent observer of the scene.

It may have begun in 2003, when Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published — and not just by an American publisher but by a Nigerian one, too. By now, Adichie is the still-young doyenne of the contemporary African lit scene. Her recent novel, Americanah, found a perch on the New York Times list of top 10 novels of 2013 — just weeks before Beyoncé sampled one of Adichie’s TED talks on her new album.

Read more: Printed in Africa | Fast forward | OZY
added by elwetritsche | editOzy, Pooja Bhatia (Jan 31, 2014)
 
But what makes the book such a good read—despite an anticlimactic ending—is that it's not meant as a cultural criticism, but more as a series of rich observations.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, Mark Lopez (Jul 4, 2013)
 
“Americanah” examines blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain, but it’s also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience — a platitude made fresh by the accuracy of Adichie’s observations.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, MIKE PEED (Jun 7, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andoh, AdjoaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weintraub, AbbyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This book is for our next generation, nda na-abia n'iru: Toks, Chisom, Amaka,

Chinedum, Kamsiyonna and Arinze

For my wonderful father in this, his eightieth year

And, as always, for Ivara.
First words
Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and Ifemelu like the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately shops and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.
Quotations
...her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives that we have imagined.
She was taking two sides at once, to please everyone; she always chose peace over truth, was always eager to conform.
She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.
She liked how he wore their relationship so boldly, like a brightly colored shirt. Sometimes she worried that she was too happy. She would sink into moodiness, and snap at Obinze, or be distant. And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.
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Book description
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 experiences 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, he 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 decides to return home, she and Obinze will face the toughest decisions of their lives.
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