New Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah is the 2013 acclaimed novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about two young lovers from Nigeria who dream of a deeply coveted life together in the United States. Ifemelu, an outspoken and opinionated girl is the first to migrate awaiting Obinze to join her later. However, when he is denied entry to the States and winds up in England, the once strong romantic bond they shared starts to weaken as they learn to integrate into the unfamiliarity of Western culture.
This point of view story is told in a reminiscent style. Ifemelu’s narrative recounts life back in Nigeria with Obinze and her early migration to the States, where she recalls desperately trying to find work even by questionable means, struggling to assimilate into the alien customs around her and the spark of former lovers. These flashbacks all occur during the six hours Ifemelu has taken out of her day to get her hair braided. Obinze’s story takes on a similar style, frequenting flashbacks to life in Nigeria and his downward path in the U.K.
Americanah is an honest portrayal of the highly esteemed view of Western culture held by many Africans. An Americanah as they are called in Nigeria, are treated as superior beings for having lived in the States and they are exempted from the scrutiny of others. The book also addresses issues such as racial discrimination and stereotyping by way of Ifemelu’s blog posts and her almost too-good-to-be-true romance with Curt.
As much as I appreciated the candid relevance of the book’s political message, I found it to be a bit too prosiac, especially the inclusion of entire blog posts and Ifemelu’s coverage of the Obama campaign, the dullness of which was very hard to read. I preferred reading Obinze’s POV chapters which conveyed the same political ideas but with less dogma.
I enjoyed the lengthy nature of the book as I would normally prefer reading something I can really sink my teeth into and Americanah afforded me that pleasure, through its skilfully developed characters. Even side characters like Aunty Uju and her son Dike are solid interesting characters, that take you on a journey and grow with every new trial. However, my overall enjoyment of this book was hindered by the dogmatic verbiage or long winded dullness of the pacing. For that reason I rate Americanah..
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