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Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,8022541,332 (4.17)497
"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"--
  1. 50
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  2. 40
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  3. 20
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  4. 20
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  5. 20
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  6. 20
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  7. 10
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  8. 10
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  9. 11
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    viking2917: Covers a lot of the same ground, but in the form of a Spy Novel
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» See also 497 mentions

English (236)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (3)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Piratical (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (254)
Showing 1-5 of 236 (next | show all)
At what point did my feelings about this book start declining, from a near-5 to about a 3?

Perhaps when I got sick of the way Ifem and Obinze judged people, looked at people, the way they could know everything about a person just by looking at them and never returned to edit their impressions, the way they thought other characters “would always” do something, as if people were simply bags of personality traits and ideologies, robots programmed from an early age to do everything the writer’s asked them to, rather than flesh-and-blood human beings with doubts and intuitions and actions taken unsystematically. (That is not to say that I wasn’t captured by Adichie’s characters; their insecurities seemed real, their motives clear, their interactions with other characters fraught with gears turning under the metal.) In a novel whose strongest points were characters being shot down for making grand generalizations and stereotypes and unrequited racial sweeps, this veneer of complexity (which became apparent to me only about halfway through) disturbed me.

Perhaps it was when I realized what a telenovela this book had become. At first, I swooned over its ambition; it was going to be 500 pages of honing in on race, on the immigrant experience, on a trans-Atlantic love story... How original, how fascinating! And at many parts, those were the themes and plot movements that really attracted me and fascinated me and kept me reading. But at some point, it overwhelmed me, this ambition. Adichie was trying to make her novel talk about everything. Ifem’s life became a Ferris wheel of men and jobs and friends and events, things coming in and out of her life on their own accord, one following the other – a regular melodrama. Things started seeming slightly arbitrary, unbelievable, which in this book felt like a sort of treason.

Perhaps it was when the writing started feeling stale, unadorned, “lazy” in Blaine’s words – a barely tailored style that seemed to require no additional thought or work than a simple plug and chug of plot and character. 500 pages is a lot to write, and having to think about every word, every sentence uniquely would be an arduous task for any writer. The blog posts, then, were liberating in that way – something different, interesting, believable. Still, overall, lazy.

However, I kept reading. Ifem’s love for Obinze – as well as her affairs with Curt and Blaine – toyed with my romantic side. And Adichie’s treatment of race – the entire framing device of the hair salon, especially – was so honest, so pink and raw, so complex, that I had to read on.
( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
Really enjoyable book. I was able to use it to bribe myself into doing boring things. "Just do X and you can read a chapter". So it's had a positive effect on my life. I laughed a lot and I learned a lot that I didn't know about hair. I am going to miss Ifem and the Zed.


I especially enjoyed the Obinze in London part because in my job I've so many people who've been through this horrible reverse Narnia effect. You go from being a well respected intellectual in your country, with friends and family and a support network, to someone who's only seen as foreign. They don't take your degree seriously, and you're all on your own. In one sense it is humbling, because, what are we if we lose all those things: love, respect, security? What is left of who we are? It is an opportunity to learn. But it is so frustrating because the reason you lost these things was not life's lottery, it's specifically racism and xenophobia.
( )
  RebeccaBooks | Sep 16, 2021 |
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 23, 2021 |
Ehhh... Definitely not as hard-hitting as her other work. At times it reads more like a blog post or an opinion piece with characters stuck in, and Obinze's POV does not add much to the story. That being said, Adichie really gets to show how funny she can be in this book. ( )
  doryfish | Aug 20, 2021 |
This is an acclaimed novel about young, middle-class Nigerians who emigrate to the West. It's rich with insights on human nature, race, class, politics, and love. Its observations on the immigrant experience ring very true to me. I highlighted a lot. But I have difficulty recommending it for pleasure reading. At 588 pages, it's a bit too long for what it is. And its characters don't grow much. They mainly observe things, go through stuff, and serve as mouthpieces for the author's views. ( )
1 vote KGLT | Aug 7, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 236 (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
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngoziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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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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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