Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah follows the lives of two Nigerians: Ifemelu, who moves to America to study and starts a very successful blog about race in America (seriously, from what Adichie writes you'd think that getting blog views is easy); and Obinze, who moves to the UK to get work and is considerably less successful.


It's, sort of, a love story. It's also a book about race, about Lagos, about America; about the immigrant experience; about living between two countries; about finding oneself; about coming home. It's a sprawling novel covering a number of years, one of those books that you never quite know what it's going to be about until you reach the end, and one that's really difficult to describe because to describe it is to reduce it.


Speaking as a white person: it's a book that made me aware (more aware?) of how I think about race, how easy it is to fall into well-meaning but still othering patterns of thought. At one point, Ifemelu meets the mother of one of her boyfriends (I think?) who goes out of her way to demonstrate how Accepting she is; it made me think about whether I do the same thing.


Despite the anger we undoubtedly get at times from Ifemelu and Obinze, Americanah manages to be an extraordinarily non-judgemental book: like Ifemelu's blog, it observes without judging, drawing out the unfairnesses of Ifemelu's and Obinze's situations without blaming anyone in particular for them.


It also made me cry a couple of times: Adichie renders emotions and relationships beautifully, the trap of depression, the misery of being separated (physically and emotionally) from an SO.


Just a lovely, lovely book.