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Americanah Paperback – March 4, 2014
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*Starred Review* To the women in the hair-braiding salon, Ifemelu seems to have everything a Nigerian immigrant in America could desire, but the culture shock, hardships, and racism she’s endured have left her feeling like she has “cement in her soul.” Smart, irreverent, and outspoken, she reluctantly left Nigeria on a college scholarship. Her aunty Uju, the pampered mistress of a general in Lagos, is now struggling on her own in the U.S., trying to secure her medical license. Ifemelu’s discouraging job search brings on desperation and depression until a babysitting gig leads to a cashmere-and-champagne romance with a wealthy white man. Astonished at the labyrinthine racial strictures she’s confronted with, Ifemelu, defining herself as a “Non-American Black,” launches an audacious, provocative, and instantly popular blog in which she explores what she calls Racial Disorder Syndrome. Meanwhile, her abandoned true love, Obinze, is suffering his own cold miseries as an unwanted African in London. MacArthur fellow Adichie (The Thing around Your Neck, 2009) is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love and what it takes to become a “full human being.” --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
It is not a stretch to say that her finely observed new book, which combines perfectly calibrated social satire and heartfelt emotion, stands with Invisible Man and The Bluest Eye as a defining work about the experience of being black in America.--Ruth Franklin --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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I also found Ifemelu to be contemptible and selfish. The story did tie up one loose end but I questioned whether it should have ended as it did.
It has happened again. I started to read a book and I was enchanted. As with Russian novels, I had to write down all the names of people and places. Since I was reading on Kindle I could not write on the book itself.
Ifemelu: the main female character, brave, impulsive, curious, successful blogger. She used to blog about race, blogs about life in the happy end.
Princeton: the American University town where the book starts.
Aunty Uju: near friend and relative of Ifemelu, we meet her as a medical doctor in US, later on we learn that she has been the mistress of a killed Nigerian general.
Ginika: Ifemelu’s friend from Nigeria. She helps Ifemelu to settle down when she first arrives in US.
Blaine: ifemelu’s boyfriend of her last three years in Us. University professor at Princeton.
Obinze: second main character. Ifemelu’s first and last boyfriend of the book. He represents her country and her life love or love to life. Also called The Zed by friends and Ceiling by Ifemelu.
Dike: Ifemelu’s cousin, son of Aunty Uju and the general.
Ranyunudo: Ifemelu’s girl friend through life.
Igbo: People of South-East Nigeria
Kosi: Obinze’s wife.
Buchi: Obinze’s daughter.
Nsukka: Nigerian town.
Lagos: Nigerian city, capital until 1991.
Curt: Ifemelu’s boyfriend during her early days in US. He helps her to become an American citizen.
Americanah jumps on top of my own book range, before Anna Karenina and Knausgård Min Kamp. Reading this book I went inside my own never ending longing and integration process; I learned about Nigeria and its growing middle class I did not know anything about before; I read an exquisite English text that was perfect for somebody like me who has and always will have English as a second or third language.
"But race is not biological; race is sociology. Race is not GENotype; race is PHENotype. race matters because of racism. And
racism is ABSURD because it's about HOW you look. Not about the blood you have. It is about the color of your skin and the
shape of your nose and the kink of your hair." emphasis added.
We as a global society, long, long ago, CREATED racism. We have a collective universal silent agreement on the definition of race. Because we have a collective created universal agreement, we have the choice to re-define the collective universal definition of race. Yes, appreciate, take pride in your ethnicity, your traditions, your genealogy.
Let's consider Merriam Webster's definition of
Race: a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.
Race: noun, homo sapiens
Americanah is the book to start the conversation.
Can we come to a collective universal definition of:
Race: noun, homo sapiens, the species of human beings that exist today
I also really loved it's amazing depiction of Nigeria. It portrayed an alternate image of Nigeria and Africa that the world needs. It's not always about poor black kids, lack of clean water and/or lack of education. It shows that there are in fact educated, middle class people who live normal lives and wear shoes contrary to what the media depicts and leads the rest of the world to believe. This book should be read by all kids in high school in America because it will give them a broader perspective of the world and about relationships between friends, lovers and family.