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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This is a wide ranging, smart novel that makes the ideas of race and color and gender real in the context of the sexual, political, religious and intellectual cultures of America, Nigeria and England. Ifemelu, the young woman we follow from Africa to America and back, at one point, frustrated by a young American white woman who asks about the book she is reading thinks, "Why (do) people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel ha(s) to be about only one thing." This novel is about many many things.
And though she is not optimistic about racism in America, Aditchie gives us one answer from Ifemelu: "The simplest solution to the problem of race in America? Romantic love. Not friendship. Not the kind of safe, shallow love where the objective is that both people remain comfortable. But real deep romantic love, the kind that twists you and wrings you out and makes you breathe through the nostrils of your beloved. And because that real deep romantic love is so rare, and because American society is set up to make it even rarer between American Black and American White, the problem of race in America will never be solved."
Intricacies in the subjects of romantic/young love, family, survival, complacency, race, and emotion are subtly digested and broken down thru ought the novel, producing a piece of literature that gives both entertainment as well as the opportunity to think deeply about these topics from unusual and fascinating angles. By reading this book one gets a chance to really ponder and expand their consciousness and appreciate these topics in a way that one may never have conceived before.
There is one quote that I would like to share, that captures one aspect of the novel, and that resonates with me.
“…you wrote to me and said ‘It’s wonderful but it’s not heaven.’”
This quote encapsulates the common immigrant experience of America that is obviously difficult for a born citizen to understand. An African immigrant friend of mine once extensively described to me how America’s portrayal in other countries in the world is much more glamorous than the reality of living here. I didn’t totally understand her at the time, however one of the many things that I have gained from reading this book includes a better appreciation of how America is perceived as a land of opportunity. Of course this is just one small piece of the novel.
The opportunity to view America as an outsider, in such a beautiful, intriguing, and compelling plotline made this a greatly enjoyable, and perception expanding, novel.
Another reason is the fact that it felt a little too real for me as I’m also an Americanah to some extent. I immigrated to the USA to further my studies when I was in my late teens. I felt the struggles of the protagonist and lived many scenarios as well. All I can say that, I’m grateful to have succeeded abroad because many loose their ways.
So race, love, bigotry, culture, corruption, religion and almost all other social ills; the book addresses it tactfully. It’s hilarious yet serious.
Three quotes stayed with me amongst many others and there are true:
Enemy of progress (This was used to denote a uppity black British woman who looked down on African Immigrants)
Immigrant is code for Muslim (This was used in a conversation to refer to the state of politics in the UK at some point in time)
An African becomes black when he or she comes to the USA. Before that, race doesn’t matter to him or her and it’s a rude awakening.
I give it a 4/5. Not 5 stars because in writing you have to show rather than tell and this book does it well. However, sometimes, things were so subtle and if you didn’t carefully read between the lines you missed the point.
Overall, it’s very thought-provocative and spares no one or no race!😛