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Americanah Paperback – March 4, 2014
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From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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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.
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Top customer reviews
The best part, however, is the subtle yet poignant observations of race in America and the descriptions of what it is like to be black in America, from both the viewpoint of black Americans and immigrants.
Needless to say, I absolutely adored this book. It was incredibly well-written and worth all 500+ pages necessary. The characters were so alive o felt like they were in the same room as me. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite books.
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."
Americanah did for me what very few books have been able to accomplish. Irritate me in a way that made me curious and compelled me to keep reading so that I could try and understand. And then make me realize that part of my frustration stemmed from my own self-recognition. If you have any hint of your identity rooted in that if an immigrant experience this book will simultaneously delight, enrage, and break your heart.
At times I felt the language was unnecessarily elevated, however, the writing style overall was very inviting. I wish every immigrant story/story of difference could be told this way; it dares you to not empathize with it. I dare you to not empathize with it and to not look any immigrant family differently afterward.
But while the story was full of passion, affection, and warmth, it was missing it's heart in one key way. It subtly lacked compassion for, denigrated and picked apart characters other than the heroine, while having what is essentially a blind spot for the protagonist's and her love interest's faults. The story is basically one of marital infidelity, but the wife as almost subhuman and certainly inferior to the more alive, more honest, more vibrant protagonist. That ultimately made the book seem shallow, facile and not true to life in some key way.