Read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Online


From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leavFrom the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet....

Title : Americanah
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789785205824
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 539 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Americanah Reviews

  • Rowena
    2019-02-22 22:29

    One of the best books I've read in 2013. "Americanah" is a book of great impact and importance. This is the one book by an African writer that has spoken to me more than any other.This is a book about Africa and the African diasporic experience in the USA and England, a backdrop for the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze, teenagers attending a Nigerian university who have to leave the country because of the university strikes in Nigeria. Ifemelu moves to the States, where she attends an American university and starts a blog dealing with race issues in America, while Obinze moves to England and ends up becoming an illegal immigrant. The book examines the intricacies of race, especially in the USA, as well as the issue of immigration. It talks about the difference between being black in Africa and being black in the States. Adichie is seamless as she goes from country to country, from American to Nigerian, to Francophone African and English. She is a brilliant writer who gifts us with an entertaining story and introduces us to very real characters.I found some of the themes discussed in this book similar to those discussed in NoViolet Bulawayo's "We Need New Names." This book helps show that immigrants have it tough; psychological changes, changes to identity, the need to reinvent themselves so that they can “fit in” and be accepted, and so on. Their issues often go unspoken. Adichie is very aware at the subtleties between cultures and she highlights them well. There were some things that she touched on that I’d thought about but never really put in words. For example, people’s pity when they realize you’re African, and their need to talk about their charitable donations to the continent:"Ifemelu wanted, suddenly and desperately, to be from the country of people who gave and not those who received, to be one of those who had and could therefore bask in the grace of having given, to be among those who could afford copious pity and empathy." Adichie isn't shy about bringing up controversial issues, those that others keep silent about. For example, she explores the politics of natural hair among kinky hair:"I have natural kinky hair. Worn in cornrows, Afros, braids. No, it's not political. No, I am not an artist or poet or singer. Not an earth mother either. I just don't want relaxers in my hair...By the way, can we ban Afro wigs at Halloween? Afro is not costume, for God's sake." One thing I also loved was the fact that Adichie talked about Africans deciding to return to Africa after having lived abroad. She has Ifemelu saying, "And yet there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness, a borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she had lived." Perhaps contrary to popular belief, not all Africans in the diaspora are fleeing from Africa; many have questioned what they are doing abroad in the first place and want to move back home. A lot of people do not realize that Africa is growing and developing and that people might actually be happy to live there. Seeing the online communication links between younger people from different African countries makes me feel hopeful that my generation will do great things in the continent. I love fiction in general but fiction with a message is even more appealing to me. This is a story with such important social commentary. All through the book I had moments in which I said "It's about time someone addressed that!"Highly recommended.

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    2019-03-16 21:55

    UPDATE: Now with irritating author interview! See end of review.Those of you who know me know I don’t really have favorite authors: I have favorite books, occasionally favorite series. So you won’t be surprised that after I thought Half of a Yellow Sun was amazing and Purple Hibiscus and The Thing Around Your Neck fairly good, I’m giving 2 stars (edit: 1 star) to Adichie’s latest. Typical. But really, yikes! This isn't even a novel: it's a 477-page opinion essay with some characters thrown in.Read the blurb and you'll be told Americanah is about a pair of star-crossed lovers from Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze, following their adventures as immigrants in the U.S. and U.K. respectively. Technically that's in the book, but Americanah is really a series of vignettes in which an endless parade of minor characters talk about race, nationality, and various other issues, with Ifemelu in the background. (Obinze is here more as her love interest than a protagonist in his own right, and we only get a few chapters from his perspective.)So here's the thing. If you're looking for a book of observations about race in America, you might like this. Adichie certainly has a lot of them. But for me this bloated book was a complete slog--I read 5 others from start to finish while plodding through it. The most interesting parts of the characters' lives, the moments when something is actually at stake, are breezed through in narrative summary, while the book focuses in on mundane conversations illustrating Adichie's points about race. There's no real plot, no tension or momentum, and I found it impossible to summon any interest in the characters, as I was kept at a distance from them throughout.There are two types of scenes here, both of which feel as if they could have been lifted directly from the author's life or the lives of people she knows, and then strung together with little sense of continuity. In the first, Ifemelu encounters someone who says something ignorant, biased or otherwise unfortunate on the subject of race or nationality. In the second, Ifemelu attends a social event where a group of people talk about race or nationality. A revolving door of bit-part characters exists to opine on these subjects: there must be 200+ named characters in this book, almost all of whom appear in only one or two scenes and are developed only through brief sketches. Even in the last 10 pages of the book, Adichie's introducing us to a whole new group of people so that they can talk about the economic problems in Nigeria. Which is representative of the extent to which the entire book is more a platform for the author to talk about issues than a story.And perhaps because Ifemelu's primary role is as an observer who blogs about other people's foibles (actual blog entries are scattered liberally throughout), she mostly comes across as self-righteous and judgmental. When she does act, it's usually to be unpleasant: she passive-aggressively starts fights with her boyfriends, writes personal blog posts about friends without their permission, and when a co-worker criticizes her behavior, her response is to call the co-worker ugly. Ifemelu seems to tolerate other people in her life only insofar as they don't inconvenience her (and she's easily annoyed, by everything from her parents daring to visit her to a boyfriend moving on with his life after she cuts him off), and she radiates disdain for everyone she meets, even those closest to her. Normally I'm a fan of flawed female protagonists, but Ifemelu is neither interesting nor admirable, drifting through a story that seems to take readers' identification with her for granted, with little narrative awareness of her flaws.As for the most prominent part of the book then: the discussions about race. My response was mixed. There are certainly some good observations here, and Adichie is absolutely right that there ought to be more novels about how people experience race today, instead of the endless parade of books about slavery or Jim Crow that make us feel good about how far we've come rather than challenging us to do better. Sometimes Adichie exaggerates, although not fatally so--for instance, in a shopping scene where the characters are unable to identify which salesperson helped them because the only way to distinguish between the two is that one is black and one white, and they're unwilling to mention race. This could certainly happen and says something about American society, but Adichie seems quick to generalize, as if all Americans would react in the same way (I doubt most would be as stymied by the situation as the characters presented here). But while Ifemelu is always confident in her opinions, and gets annoyed with people who disagree with her, Adichie merely presents her conclusions rather than leading readers to make them independently. People who don't already agree with her are unlikely to be convinced.In the end, I was disappointed because I know Adichie can write great novels, where the focus is on the characters and their story and these elements are developed brilliantly. But that isn't this book. Adichie has a character argue against subtlety in writing novels about race, but surely it's possible to talk about race honestly and tell an engaging story at the same time, rather than sacrificing the latter for the former. I give an extra half-star because the writing is not bad, because those few scenes where she stops pontificating and develops Ifemelu's experiences hooked me, because there are some good observations. But as a novel, Americanah is unsatisfying, and for me proved to be a tedious, heavy-handed slog, easily double the length the plot required. I'll promise here and now that if Adichie decides to publish an essay collection or memoir on the subject, I'll read it. But this cross between blog and novel results in a story and characters too thin to entertain, choked out by observations and opinions that would be better communicated in nonfiction. I simply can't recommend it, and the high rating so far completely mystifies me.UPDATE: So I read an interview with Adichie here, in which she says:Still, it seems it is mostly American readers who most miss the fact that “Americanah” is supposed to be funny. I laughed a lot when writing it (although it is a bit worrying to be so amused by one’s own humor). But I suppose race when bluntly dealt with does not blend well with that wonderful, famed American earnestness.Oh, where do I even begin? First, there's the "If you don't find my jokes funny, it's definitely not because I'm not funny, it's because you don't get that it's supposed to be funny" angle. Some writers do humor well and some don't. If you don't, best not to claim it's your readers' shortcoming.Second, there's the "Oh, American readers in general don't think it's funny? It's definitely not because it's inside humor that's really only going to appeal to people with similar experiences. It's obviously an American problem, so let's see if I can come up with a stereotype that'll explain it!" angle. (I mean, WTF, now we're supposed to be earnest? I thought we were supposed to be fun-loving but oblivious, or something. But okay, it's pretty easy to stereotype a country of 315 million people, because whatever trait you come up with, millions of people will have it.) I'm not clear on how the elements some readers have found funny, like Ifemelu's father's pedantic way of speaking, are even related to race, but clearly Adichie would rather blame American racial attitudes (and compliment herself for her bluntness) than just admit she's not the world's best humorist.Third, it's just so exactly something that Ifemelu would say, and the way she thinks and behaves throughout the book (superior, quick to generalize, always finding fault with others but never ever with herself) that it's really impossible to see Ifemelu as anything other than an author-insert. And you know what's 10 times more annoying than when an author you previously loved writes a book you kind of hate? When you then realize actually you don't think much of the author as a person either.

  • Somi
    2019-02-18 17:47

    In Nigeria, we are brought up on foreign movies, sitcoms and TV shows, foreign books and foreign news. We know how English should be spoken, and many of us who bother to read a lot are very familiar with the colloquialisms of the west.This is perhaps why we do not recognize how much we miss our own particularly Nigerian way of expression in the literature we read. It is perhaps why, when we read a phrase that is essentially Nigerian, in a novel like Americanah... “Tina-Tina, how now?” “Why are you looking like a mumu?” “How will you cope/how are you coping?”... All of them, familiar Nigerian modes of speech, we are infinitely grateful.I am probably biased towards this novel, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, not only because Adichie’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which I read as a very young girl, awoke in me the possibility of good writing and beautiful prose by a Nigerian like me, but because of the familiarity of the book.It’s like the word Americanah, such a Nigerian word, used to describe someone who had lived abroad for so long, they no longer understand the nuances of being Nigerian. They use American swearwords, or complain that the fries at KFC Onikan are limp, even though you see nothing wrong with them. This is when you turn to someone who understands and say, (No mind am, na Americanah), Don’t mind him, he is an Americanah.Adichie’s latest follows Ifemelu, a bright, sharp and observant girl, from her early years in 1990’s Nigeria to a life in America where, after the first rude shocks of culture change in a new world where ‘fat’ is a bad word and not merely a statement of fact, where colour is such a big issue that it can rule people’s lives, and where everything is different, she slowly and surely starts to become an Americanah.In Americanah, Ifemelu observes, and we are informed by her observations, she converses and we see her character, she remembers, and in her memories we see a rich story that begins in Lagos, journeys through the cities of America, and gains a body that is beautiful to savour. It is through Ifemelu’s observations that we experience what Americanah is about.Hair. Specifically Black/African hair. Why do black women hide their hair? Would Beyonce ever allow the world to see her hair the way it really is, or would Michelle Obama? These are the questions Ifemelu asks in her blog, where after having lived in the United States for a long time, she broaches issues of race, hair and life in America from the eyes of a ‘Non-American Black’.We experience race. Kimberley, the white woman who uses beautiful as a word to describe ‘black’, because for whichever reason, black is a word that should be said as little as possible. Kurt, to whom Ifemelu’s race means nothing, and Blaine, the Black American Yale professor, whose influence, in my opinion, would be the biggest in turning Ifemelu’s observations from the disinterested and amused observation of a ‘Non-American Black’ or ‘NAB’, who calmly tells Kimberly, “You know, you can just say ‘black.’ Not every black person is beautiful.” to those of an ‘American Black’ or ‘AB’, who would say in her blog. “If the “slavery was so long ago” thing comes up, have your white friend say that lots of white folks are still inheriting money that their families made a hundred years ago. So if that legacy lives, why not the legacy of slavery?” The old Ifemelu would have told the descendants of the slaves to ‘get over it’.We also experience love. Adichie herself describes Americanah as a love story, and this is true. There is love in almost every book, but in Americanah, it is not incidental, it is a central part of the story. Before America, race, and hair became issues, there was Obinze, the love of Ifemelu’s teenage life. If Ifemelu, the daughter of a civil servant who lost his job because he would not bow to the excessive respect that Lagos Yorubas employ and call his boss ‘Mummy’, and uses English in such a way as to provide a hilarious sort of comic relief, is sharp and confident, then Obinze, the only son of a university professor, with his love for American books and his quiet belief in himself, is self assured and mature. They fall in love soon after they meet as secondary school students in Lagos, and when Ifemelu tells her aunt and friend, Uju about him, saying she has met the love of her life, there is a hilarious moment when Aunt Uju advises her to “let him kiss and touch but not to let him put it inside.”While most of the story is seen though Ifemelu’s eyes and memories, we also get to see some of Obinze. We follow him to London, where he lives as an illegal immigrant, after failing to find a job in Nigeria, or to fulfill his dream of going to America. (He later visits America, when he becomes rich, and isn’t impressed. He lost interest when he realized that he could buy his way in.) In the UK, he is arrested on the eve of his sham wedding and repatriated. In all this, Obinze never loses a certain ‘solidness’, that he seems to possess effortlessly, In a democratic Nigeria, where a new middle class is rising, and the money that used to be the preserve of the top army generals starts to filter down, Obinze gets lucky in the way that only happens in Nigeria, where there really is too much money, and overnight he is a very rich man.When Ifemelu starts to hunger for home, Obinze, with whom she has lost touch, is already a husband and father. “Meanwhile o, he has serious money now. See what you missed!” her friend, Ranyinudo tells her on a call from Nigeria. (How Nigerian to say something like that!) The central question becomes, will they get back together? To some, this is a weakness of the story, the descent into the fantasy of a happily-ever-after for the heroine and hero, but it is not such a bad thing in itself - It makes enjoyable, and hopeful reading.In summary, I loved the story. I loved the familiarity of it, Ifemelu’s mother’s ridiculous religiousness, her father's ludicrous use of English, Aunty Uju, Ginika, Kayode, Emenike, who is perhaps one of the more interesting characters, as he strives to shed the life he was born with, to become what he wishes to be, and all the other different kinds of people that make up the rich tapestry that is Nigerian life.Ifemelu is an interesting character, observant, watchful, sure of herself. Even as a teenager, she is confident in a way I wouldn’t have understood at that age. Obinze, knows himself in such a way that he doesn’t need to follow any crowd, or have anybody validate him. However, I did feel that the ending was rather rushed, as if the author had other things to do, and was hastily putting the final scenes together.The main grouse I had with the book was the fact that I saw some elements from Adichie’s previous works. When Barrack Obama wins the election and her cousin Dike calls her to say that his president is black like him, I remember an interview long ago where Adichie says that her nephew had said the exact same thing after the elections. It made me feel cheated. This, the similarity of her relationship with Curt to the relationship of the characters in her short story, The Thing Around Your Neck; when Obinze describes his house in Enugu, and I see the house in Birdsong, the scene of another adulterous affair in another of her old short stories. How autobiographical is her work then? I ask myself. I begin to feel suspicious, perhaps all her characters are really herself and the people she knows. I noticed that apart from Dike, her little cousin, and Obinze, and perhaps Obinze’s mother, Ifemelu does not seem very emotionally involved with the people that shape her life. Sometimes she seems like a watcher, an observer, and not a character in the story. Also, because this novel is really many observations and opinions, sometimes it does feel contrived, like a character or event has been introduced solely because they are a means to present an issue Adichie wants to discuss. Lastly, I did not find the blog interesting. Unlike the prose of the novel, the writing is not fluid, or very descriptive, and seems to jump from one issue to another, trying to cram many thoughts into one jumbled package. This may be because I am an NAB, and those issues mean little to me, perhaps the AB’s would read it differently.Regardless, Americanah is a wonderful read, sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes sad, but always interesting.

  • Brina
    2019-03-11 19:37

    A few weeks ago I read The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short story collection, and was immediately struck with her attention to detail in stories as short as six pages long. Desiring more of her captivating prose, I chose Americanah, her intricate discussion on race in three countries and continents. Taking place in Nigeria, the United States, and England, Americanah can be viewed by many as a novel that is one of the premier looks on race over the last five years. Ifemelu and Obinze met in secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria and even then knew that they were the love of each other's lives. Enjoying a deep relationship often absent in teenaged love, the two attended the same university in Nsukka, where Obinze's mother was a full professor. She welcomed Ifemelu into her family, and the three lived a blissful life that is usually only found in movies. This existence is shattered one day when professors go on extended strikes, denying students their basic right to an education. Ifemelu applies for and receives a Visa to the United States, while Obinze's application is mired in bureaucratic red tape. Although the two are soulmates, they do not see each other for another thirteen years. In Nigeria, Adichie explains through Ifemelu, people are blind to race because for the most part everyone looks the same. The second Ifemelu stepped off of the plane in the United States; however, race was everywhere-- from being denied employment even at low level jobs to the way professors talk to her at first, and even the treatment her Aunt Uju, a doctor, receives from prospective employers and the way Uju's son is treated at school. Going from a race blind to a racist country, Ifemelu pines for Obinze and the way things were in Nigeria yet is embarrassed to contact him. Instead, she dates a Caucasian and a African American, two people who she has nothing in common with. Eventually, Ifemelu founds and becomes successful at blogging as a non American black who offers her unique perspective on race to the table. As these blog entries were an aside from the story line, I looked forward to reading them in between chapters in order to glimpse Adichie's gleanings on the race question. Meanwhile Obinze immigrates to and is later deported from England. There he discovers that he is on the low end of the race totem pole. As dark skinned as he is, his only job prospects are in menial labor that he is over qualified for. Although he thinks of Ifemelu everyday, she does not reach out to him, and the two go on to lead distinct lives. Obinze does not stay in England long as he is deported to Nigeria. After seeing how he had been treated in this supposed western super power, Obinze is happy to return to the comforts of home. Throughout this novel, Adichie offers a variety of aspects of the race question, especially in Nigeria and the United States where she divides her time. Ifemelu can go from a person who finds one magazine- Essence- where people look like her back to a country where no one questions her because everyone is the for the most part the same skin color. Because this is a novel rather than real life, Adichie ties up all of the plot lines flawlessly even the ones that appear a little far fetched. I enjoyed reading her take on race and look forward to reading her novels set entirely in Nigeria to see if there really exists such a stark contrast on race relations in these two countries. A powerful kick off to African American history month, Americanah earns 5 full stars.

  • Roxane
    2019-02-28 14:53

    There's a lot going on here. This book is a beautiful mess. Adichie takes on race, immigration and emigration, the politics of natural hair, interracial relationships, what it means to leave home, and what it means to return, all wrapped up in a love story. The book is, at points, indulgent, just on and on the writing goes, the writer showing off her admittedly impressive way with words. Stronger editing would have done wonders for this book. But when this book is good, it is absolutely brilliant.

  • Kaykay Obi
    2019-03-08 19:32

    Americanah is a love story, not the kind of love stories I grew up reading, those with really beautiful women and handsome tall guys. In fact, the lovers in this one aren’t too attractive, but their love is. Their love is beautiful, but then it is tried, beaten, stretched, yet it endures and gets stronger.Okay, love aside. Americanah deals on the subject of race and hair. You may wonder how hair could be an issue, but it is in this book. The book begins in a hairdresser shop, where Ifemelu goes to make her hair for her return journey to Nigeria. There, she muses on her decision to go back home, and then, in Adichie’s well-known style, the narrative jumps back in time, and we are transported to Ifemelu’s teenage years. We see her as a girl with strong opinions and who isn’t afraid of saying what’s on her mind, a trait which she always gets rebuked for, especially by her elders. She meets Obinze in her secondary school, and they fall in love. The narrative follows them through their secondary school to their university days, where things begin to fall apart. University lecturers are frequently striking because the military government delays their salaries. This forces students to remain at home with nothing to do. And then people begin to travel out of the country, in search for greener pastures and for better education. Ifemelu grabs the opportunity when it is presented to her and she goes to America to study, while Obinze hopes to join her later.While in America, Ifemelu notices something she has never thought about before – race, and she would later say, “We all wish race was not an issue. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue, I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America." The issue of and racism makes her start a blog: Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black.I loved the blog posts that appeared from time to time, a good innovation, which left me marveled. I’ve never read any novel where this was done, and I found it impressive, not just because of the concept, but because it doesn’t distract you from the main story, although it makes you think and wonder, and you can’t help but mark some of the posts so you could visit them later.I enjoyed this book. There were funny scenes where I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. And the dialogue is good; it felt so real and I could identify with it, especially in the Nigerian settings. I loved Adichie’s descriptions of Lagos, London, and all the American cities where Ifemelu sojourned. Even the character descriptions, sometimes funny, create solid images in the head. And the writing is superb.Americanah has a large cast of memorable characters. There’s the younger and older version of Ifemelu and Obinze; Obinze’s mother, one of the coolest fictional mother I’ve ever read; Ifemelu’s Dad, who uses big vocabulary and doesn’t hesitate in blaming the government for his misfortunes; Ifemelu’s mother, devoted to religion and isn’t rational in her thinking sometimes. Then there’s Aunty Uju and her son, Dike; Blaine, Ifemelu’s African-American boyfriend, who she refers to as “Professor Hunk” on her blog. And then Curt, the White American Boyfriend, rich, always cheerful and easy to please. I loved each of these characters. They have enough depth and substance – they felt too real. Not the kind of characters you will easily forget. I think my favorite among them is Obinze’s mother. She’s a thoughtful woman with a calm demeanor, the kind of woman I’d listen to talk and talk and I won’t get bored, because she spits wisdom from her mouth.Overall, I’d say Americanah is a remarkable book, a thoughtful book, a book filled with truth; it touches other issues such as social inequality, immigration, self-acceptance, loss of cultural identity, and change. The book remains with you after you finish reading, begging you to “read again.” Without doubt, I’ll read this book again at a later time.The Purple Hibiscus has always been my favorite Adichie novel. Now, Americanah, I think, is my favorite.It’s a Five Star read, and although I didn’t like the book cover, I still look forward to Adichie’s next book.

  • karen
    2019-02-25 16:43

    this is basically what was going through my head for most of the book: “AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”and then, more quietly in the background, under the shrieking:“why haven’t i read this before now?”because i was an early-adopter of adichie - i read Purple Hibiscus back when it was her only novel, and i pounced on Half of a Yellow Sun as soon as it was published and it immediately rose to the very top of my heart-pile of ‘favorite books ever.’and then this came out and i just… dallied. i bought it the week it came out, but it’s just been hanging out on my shelves for years, being another unread hardcover i’d see and berate myself with, “good thing you paid hardcover price for that, asshole!”but then one book, one new york came around and suddenly there was a force other than myself pushing me towards it, which was just what i needed to have my AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! moment. because it’s phenomenal. and i started reading it one night, intending to just make some headway into it before pausing “pleasure-reading time” and transitioning into “getting some work done time.”which did not happen that night, because i just sank into it. figuratively. but i did quite literally sink into my reading bunker, all pillows and stuffed pals and fleece blanket and dozing cat, reading so compulsively that i couldn’t even be bothered to reach over and turn on my reading lamp, instead just squinting myself into mole eyes, grandmotherly advice be damned!this ‘review’ is going to be pure reader-response because i can’t even approach something this spectacular with my messy and gushy words, like vomit all over a unicorn. she’s just so fucking talented - the whole ball of wax - characters, descriptions, story, observations; she’s so purely expressive and astute and so damn smart. the book’s gaze is broad: race, gender, class, relationships, beauty culture, the dislocation of the immigrant, all the warts america overlooks while it’s busy patting itself on the back - it’s tremendously entertaining and funny and true, and those blog posts are gold, my friends… it just barely missed the five-star mark for me - i thought it poofed out a little at the end, making it slightly less perfect than her previous two novels, but it’s by no means flawed - this is a book that no one should have on their shelves, unread, for as long as i did. be better than me at all things!*************************************BOOM! new york is MINE!review to come***********************************one book, one new york! my civic duty and reading this (finally). new yorkers who do not have this read by june will be deported to connecticut.

  • Julie Christine
    2019-03-03 16:48

    "What is it with you Americans and race?" my friend Fatima asked me one day over lunch. We were in her country, France, both students at a university tucked in a shadow of an Alpine peak. "Everyone always wanted to know where I was from. I'd tell them France and they'd say, no, where are you from? It made no sense. I was born in France. I'm French." Fatima, with her brown sugar skin and currant-black eyes, then turned to her boyfriend Karim and Arabic poured from her in a river of throaty consonants and chewy vowels. A few years later, at graduate school in the Midwest, my friend James, a PhD student from Uganda, told me he didn't know he was black until he came to the United States. We were talking about the curious strain in his African Studies graduate program between the African students and the black American students. The term "African-American" baffled him. He got it, he understood its history, but it still made little sense to him. They were Americans- not black Americans, not African-Americans, but Americans, full-stop.Race in America is an uncomfortable subject, mostly for white Americans. We still don't know where to look or what to do with our hands. We fidget and prevaricate, we, like blond-haired, blue-eyed, wealthy, liberal Kimberley in Americanah, use euphemisms like "beautiful" when we refer to black women so that everyone will know that not only are we not racist, but we think blacks are particularly worthy of our praise. Chimamanda Adichie reflects our beliefs and behaviors back on us, illuminating our silliness and our masquerades, our ignorance and our misguided, but earnest, attempts to understand the impossible: what it's like to be be something other than white in this very-race conscious society. The thing about Adichie's novel is that it's written from a rarified world perspective. There is something very bourgeois about ruminating on race and class from ivory towers, as most of Americanah's characters do. Ifemelu's early years in the United States, when she lives a hand-to-mouth existence as a college student, and her Nigerian boyfriend Obinze's harrowing months in the United Kingdom, from which he is deported as an illegal, give glimpses of how the immigrant experience unfolds in the shadow of racial discrimination. But mostly, this novel is a glossy-magazine conversation between the author and her readers about the experiences of an upper-middle class African woman in America. And I loved it. I loved her voice, her warm and personal style, the way she straddles feminism and social awareness with navel-gazing vanity. I'm not sure if I'm talking about the character Ifemelu or the author Chimamanda Adichie, but the end result is the same. This novel charms at least as much as it educates. A Washington Post reviewer referred to Americanah as social satire. Satire? Really? I didn't get that. I got a very lucid, grounded, contemporary look at race, class, and the immigrant experience in three nations--Nigeria, the United States, and the United Kingdom--built loosely around a love story. Adichie dances a very skilled and entrancing pas de deux between classic storytelling and social edification. Satire does foam up in the metafiction blog “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-­American Black” written by the protagonist, Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who comes to the U.S. as a college student. Ifemelu, whose looks and experiences are based on the author's, fills her anonymous blog with stories about the American race and class dilemmas she observes as an outsider. The blog eventually wins her a fellowship at Princeton and her immigrant experience veers into another social track entirely: the liberal elite. Because of her skin color, Ifemelu is pegged as Black and it's assumed she will somehow understand the "Black" experience in America. But Ifemelu, like my Ugandan friend James, didn't know from racial distinction until she came to the United States. She makes a decision to guard her Nigerian accent, not to straighten her hair, to make it clear that she is neither Black nor American. She is Nigerian. And after fifteen years in the United States, Ifemelu makes the decision to return to Nigeria, opening herself up to an experience unlike any she'd anticipated: the challenge of rebuilding her identity in a country that has moved on without her. It was a gift for this reader to have an insider's perspective on such a vast, complicated, and fast-changing nation, both before and after Ifemelu and Obinze's separate leave-takings and returns. Adichie takes the narrative many steps beyond most immigrant stories: what happens when you return home, to stay. I had thought to withhold a star for some of the too-pat romantic relationships Ifemelu wends through and Adichie's sprawling, sometimes self-indulgent style, but I can't. I thought about this book when it wasn't in my hands, I couldn't wait to get back to it, and now, days after completing it, I'm eager to seek out more of Adichie- her writing, her speeches, her essays. I have so much to learn.

  • Maxwell
    2019-03-12 15:58

    Everyone should read this book.Adichie has really hit her stride in this one. After having read and adored her previous works, I knew I would love this one, and it didn't disappoint. It is by far her best work, and you can see the progression of her writing skill in Americanah.Characters are what Adichie does best. Her books become progressively less plot-driven, but her ability to engage the reader with flawed, true characters is where she excels. Ifemelu is brazen and perhaps, to some, unlikeable at times. She speaks her mind, and her blog posts, which Adichie utilizes to speak openly about race issues in America (never getting too preachy) are hard-hitting. Obinze is a bit more of a flat character in comparison to Ifemelu, but he is steady.The narrative structure is loosely, based mainly around the framework of present-day Ifemelu returning home to Nigeria after over a decade in America. At times we also get flashbacks to her university life with Obinze, and his own storyline, though in less detail than Ifemelu. Adichie's prose is infused with emotion; it is effusive and genuine. She is best when she is being philosophical. Often we get inside the characters mind, not only to hear what they are thinking but to understand how they are processing their thoughts and relating them to their general opinion of the world. We get more than just a flurry of consciousness with Adichie; we get parsed out wisdoms and failures, all from the minds of great characters. Without a doubt I can say Adichie is one of my favorite authors of all time. I will automatically buy and read anything she releases, because she is just. that. good.If you've yet to read anything buy her, I recommend starting with The Thing Around Your Neck which is a short story collection, or her first novel, Purple Hibiscus. First read: February 17-22, 2015Second read: December 18-23, 2016

  • Debbie
    2019-03-13 21:42

    Warning: I love being part of the crowd, and the crowd is mostly all gushy about this book. But seriously, I wish I had walked away from it. I really wanted to like it, I really did.This was the longest book of my life!!! 610 (Kindle) pages that felt like 1,000. I would be reading along and thinking, oh, I’m a little bored, let’s see how far I’ve gotten….and I’d look down at the bottom of my Kindle page and see that the progress bar hadn’t moved an iota!!! 17 percent, really? I’ve read all that, and all you can give me is 17 percent?? Now, the mere fact that I was looking at my progress instead of compulsively turning pages, tells you something. The thing was just too damn long. A tome, a giant, a big bloated blob. Cut it in half, and you might have a deal. Ah, where oh where are my editing scissors?When I first started, I was impressed. Well-drawn, complex characters. Impeccable language. Structurally sound. Keen insights into personalities. All good. I didn’t feel this way for long.Another plus, one that I’m only enjoying in retrospect, is the way the author so clearly shows the cultural differences between Nigeria and America. Adichie is super deft at zooming in on all the bumps that Ifemelu, the main character, feels as she lives as an immigrant in America. She must deal with the black and white conflict and also the African versus black American issue. Through all the confusion and attempts to fit in, Ifemelu faces tough differences in language, habits, viewpoints, and emotions. Ifemelu was sort of snobby and wasn’t entirely likable, but I still believed her and felt for her. I usually like analyzing and dissecting a person’s actions, motivations, denials, fears, and introspection, but here it was definitely overkill.Adichie also did a good job of giving us a feel for life in Nigeria; that was the part I liked best. But all of it was painfully, painfully slow.I’m dancing around the worst thing: it’s a message book, and I have trouble with preachy. The second half was the worst. Not only did Adichie go overboard with the lectures on racism, she also included a lot of very boring blog posts on racism. The sophomoric lectures put forth obvious ideas, and it annoyed me. I didn’t sign up to be a student in Racism 101.And then there’s the thing about hair. On the plus side, Ifemelu’s obsession with all her hair problems was sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always engaging. On the minus side of hair, Ifemelu seemed to be too much of an intellectual to be so concerned with how her hair looked. Was that a superficial side of her (and was it believable), or is it just a truth about humans?—that we all worry about our appearance, regardless of whether we are intellectuals or not. And we all know that obsessing about how our hair looks is mostly a girl thing, so is it bad press for women?The love story, though poignant, was way too drawn out. It was the best part but the shortest part. The last 50 or so pages, when the story heats up the most, were the best. I wanted a plot-driven novel about two star-crossed lovers, and it was far from that.I can’t recommend this book, even though I want to. This kills me, since so many friends absolutely loved it. I must be honest: I never looked forward to picking up this book, which is a deal breaker right there. The bad parts –the preachiness and the excessive length--far outweighed the good parts. A painfully long read. Sorry, all I can say is 2.8.

  • Dincy
    2019-03-08 22:54

    I'm only about halfway through this book but I am enthralled. I was afraid that I was over-eager and could only be disappointed, that I had set the bar too high, that I should remember that Adichie is only human, after all. But my fears were misplaced. ''Chimmy'' is back as strong as ever. I am mildly amused at how she's promoted the book in her interviews as being "about hair". This book is about race, and culture. (Admittedly, that's what it says in the blurb.) Anyway, so far, it is brilliantly on point.(I'm saving the last star for in case it nosedives).Update!It didn't nosedive. It picked up, and sprinted at the finish. Having not too recently moved overseas from Africa, I can relate to this story very closely, which made it all the better a read. It is validation. She voices things that are not often voiced, the undertones (and less subtle experiences) of racism that we experience, the realisation of one's colour when one has never been conscious of colour before; the difference between people of colour born amongst colour, and those born elsewhere; the mild shocks and intense pleasures of returning home; the way at the end of it all, all we want is to be home.Adichie is a master story-teller. I felt so connected to her characters that sometimes, distracted by someone speaking to me while I read, I would be surprised to find that Obinze was not sitting opposite me. But what I love most about Adichie's work is her ability to expose - to talk about those things that ''we don't talk about''. She is ballsy and opinionated and political, without being self-righteous and while still just... telling a story.

  • Mena
    2019-03-21 18:32

    Sigh. I really wanted to be here for this novel, but damn: the two main characters - especially Ifemelu - were barely likeable after her move to America, all the other characters (especially the Americans and "nouveau riche" Nigerians) were very one-dimensional, the adjective use was next level and I felt like I was being lectured half the damn time. Adichie's prose is beautiful and she knows how to evoke emotion, but her politics - at least on the topic of race and class - feel very staid: I didn't feel like I was hearing anything new or particularly thought-provoking. And the ending/romance storyline between Obinze and Ifemelu... fail. I think Adichie's strength is in her short story writing (although I'm hoping that rereading Half of a Yellow Sun will prove me wrong). I think, sadly, I'm falling out of love with Nigerian literature's golden girl.

  • Melanie
    2019-03-11 16:58

    "But beyond race, the book is about the immigrant’s quest: self-invention, which is the American subject. “Americanah” is unique among the booming canon of immigrant literature of the last generation (including writers Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gary Shteyngart, Chang-rae Lee, Dinaw Mengestu and Susan Choi). Its ultimate concern isn’t the challenge of becoming American or the hyphenation that requires, but the challenge of going back home."Emily Raboteau in the Washington PostI could not say it better than that. The unflinching and refreshing honesty of an outsider's take on American politics, racial tensions, relations between men and women, between women themselves, education, immigration. The all-encompassing empathy of an artist for all human plights, for our idiosyncrasies and failures of the imagination, for our grit and stubbornness in the face of injustice. The sublime sense of humor of a writer in the face of incomprehensible behavior, deep-seated prejudice and warped logic. There was so much to feel and learn and think about in this dazzling novel that I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts into one cohesive whole. And maybe that's exactly the point. There is nothing cohesive about life depicted here. The characters are all fleeting constructions of their own imaginations, their own desire for survival, their own need for validation. They are constantly evolving, changing, reassessing, adapting, morphing into the people that they become, always a little short of the people they aspire to be. The world, in all its cruelty and randomness, is constantly forcing them to bend and bend and bend until some break in two and others rebound even more forcefully. Zadie Smith said that she wanted to write the first Black existential novel with "NW" but I think Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie may have written a much more devastating and illuminating one with "Americanah". If "NW" was existential in its stylistic experimentations, "Americanah" is existential in its very essence.In the end, it could very well be that love, true passionate love between two people, is the only constant force flowing through the chaos.

  • María
    2019-03-06 20:52

    Una vez leí que Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie era una de las voces más potentes que teníamos en literatura en este siglo. Pensé: menuda exageración. Prejuzgué, sin ni siquiera haberla leído. Tiempo después me hice con Americanah. Me siento feliz de decir que me equivocaba. No estaban exagerando.

  • Chaitra
    2019-02-20 18:31

    It's my first Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book for some reason. My only experience with Nigerian literature heretofore has been Things Fall Apart which I've read multiple times and think exquisite. I had no notion of what to expect with this book, but I do know I was hoping for an idea of a modern Nigeria. I'm also always up for cultural clashes and the dynamics of race, so this was all set to be a fantastic experience. Obviously, that didn't happen and for the most part, this book is a disappointment for me. First, the thing that I did like about it - the observations on the still prevalent racism in America. Perhaps exaggerated for effect, it still resonates. It would have been a much better novel for me had it solely concentrated on Ifem's blog articles on Raceteenth. I understood the alienation Ifem felt when she first encountered the question of race (since it didn't exist in Nigeria), and how alone she felt when she got back to her country, both her and her country not the same as when she left it. It was mostly academical, since my longing for my country is not as much as my longing for family, but I did understand. I felt most for Ifem's confused cousin Dike, a Nigerian child who migrated to the US really early in life, who doesn't really know what he is. He has issues, and I do wish they were dealt with in a better, more Nigerian (as in more open) fashion, and we could see, if not a resolution, at least a better understanding of what he felt. The multiple issues (race, economy, alienation, bloodymindedness) is also partly my problem with the book. It's done well, almost too well, to the extent that plot and character development is compromised. When there is a chapter left in the book and a major issue to resolve, we meet a whole hoard of new people with the express purpose of discussing some random problems with Nigerian economy that we've neither heard before nor will we hear again. Had this been solely a commentary or an essay this would be acceptable, but it's not. It's a novel where we are supposed to care for the star crossed lovers - Ifemelu and Obinze - who are divided by time, oceans, marriage etc. Or at least we're supposed to care for Ifem (we see Obinze only rarely in this ~500 pages long book), and it's hard when her issues are unceremoniously swept under the carpet of the election chances of Barack Obama. This is a plot point. I'm not upset that the characters Adichie made up are flawed. But I am upset that their flaws are not given a context other than race. Ifem had issues that were not dealt with, issues that marred her every serious relationship. Especially the ones with the two Americans, one white and one black, each of which she broke and couldn't even understand what her fault was and why they wouldn't forgive her. But when it comes to explaining those relationships later, Adichie makes out that it was a discontent Ifem felt that was all about race. It was not - she cheated and she lied. She cheated for a silly reason that she was curious about another man's sexual prowess, and she lied about something that wasn't important to her but was extremely important to her other half. It bothered me that in the second instance her other half, Blaine, would make the immediate argument, Oh you would've done differently had you been an American black, when he's never before showed an inclination to do so, thus giving her bewilderment about his anger a justification, when realistically the argument between sparring couples would have been You knew how important this was to me and you didn't do it. But the worst was that you lied to me. And not only do they not work this out, but enter Obama and the problem is gone. Until she decides to walk out on him anyway because her feelings for him has changed since the fight. Ifem learns nothing. She holds herself above everything, an observer with more than a little self righteousness. She's also a hypocritical person, and quite shallow. When a co-worker points out to her, accurately, that she's a judgmental bitch who tries to make the whole paper she works for about herself, her pat response is, You need to get yourself a moisturizer and stop scaring people with that nasty red lipstick. And no, her coworker, who talks in teenage American, didn't call her out on physical appearance. This immaturity is all over her relationships. Her problems with her parents when they come to visit, and she sneers at them because they're provincial and not chic enough for America. Her prolonged (and disrespectful) silence with the supposed love of her life Obinze, when it was her problem that drove that distance between them, and her expectation that the man would come crawling back when she was finally ready. Her nasty treatment of everything that doesn't agree with her basically. Nothing is addressed, and ultimately no matter how well it's written, commentary on race, no matter how piercing or accurate it is, does not a good novel make, if there's some idiot with negligible emotional growth through the book spouting it. The final nail in the coffin is the end, that starry eyed resolution for the two lovers with the magical love. I agree with Obinze's poor wife - Do you think you can just destroy this family because your old girlfriend came into town? Because you have had acrobatic sex that reminded you of your time in university?" - lust was all I got from their affair, at least from Ifem. Obinze cares more for her than she does for him, and I really don't think it would be long before Ifem starts to get bored with poor Obinze. So much for love. I really, really wish I could have liked this book better.Edit: On the subject of books Adichie writes some of the most uncomfortable exchanges (for me). One, I find it weird that the one non African, black or otherwise, who discusses books with Ifem, touts A Bend in the River as the Great African Novel. I must be in the wrong crowd, because I can think of any number of people pointing to Things Fall Apart as that, without even knowing the title of Sir Vidia's book. In any case, for a person who sneers at other people assuming that a book can only be about one thing, Ifem is remarkably certain about her reading of A Bend being the only right one. Why can't it be about both, Ifem? Why can't it both be a love letter to colonialism as well as a book about the Indian Muslim character's isolation in a country not his? I mean, only because Ifem, a native African, was not aware of race and otherness before she stepped onto US soil, it doesn't mean an outsider wasn't persecuted within Africa. Furthermore, how is Ifem any different from the liberal Americans she lightly roasts in her blog? The ones who can crib unendingly about their country but cannot take even a slight slander of it from an outsider? Far be it from me to defend A Bend, it's been years since I read it, and I found it boring when I did, I found that exchange leaving a bad taste in my mouth, especially since a whole half of Americanah itself is given over to characters lusting after Europe and America.Second, why should slavery be a part of ordinary conversation, when Adichie propounds against it as a topic of novels? I honestly can't remember the mouthpiece she uses for this view, there are too many characters with only one opinion to contribute to the book. Anyway, it's something that happened in the 1960s and white guilt should not be absolved so quickly, yet writing about it is somehow selling out? I don't understand how saying this is any different than white people saying slavery is so done?Third, I found it ironic that one of the characters cries about how all the content in her book must be watered down for the non Black audience so that it's not all about race. Americanah is all about race (which is its strength, mostly), even when it has no reasonable cause to be. How could Adichie write this particular dialogue when it's untrue in the case of her own novel? Or is she immune because she's a literary big-shot? In that case, had she been honest, she could have added that line.

  • Sam
    2019-03-08 18:44

    I've been trying to formulate exactly what I think and how I feel about Americanah, a frustrating but fascinating read. And ultimately, I think that as a novel of ideas, concepts, exploration of how we as humans of various backgrounds understand and confront identity and immigration and race in the modern day, and a spotlight on the Nigerian and African diaspora in the US and UK, Americanah has much to recommend the reader, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's intelligent observations and smart, incisive prose are by turns enlightening, heartbreaking, infuriating. But as a novel of narrative, it failed to convince me that its characters were anything more than constructs designed to elicit specific scenarios, conversations, actions that could provide a platform for Adichie's ideas and opinions. And because I didn't believe in or connect with Obinze or especially Ifemelu, I could not root for them, care about their love story since it seemed of far lesser importance and had correspondingly less meat and development. So I'd give this a solid 3 stars: I liked it, Adichie can clearly write very well, and there's so much in the way of intellectual stimulation and thought provoking content. But it missed for me as a narrative, and I felt the plot and characterization flimsy and ineffective.

  • Perry
    2019-02-20 15:30

    I like to be in America! / O.K. by me in America! / Ev'rything free in America / For a small fee in America!Stephen Sondheim, "America," from West Side Story“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Anais Nin. This novel reminds me of Nin's quote about a writer's ability to perceive truth, otherwise shaded by everyday familiarity. Adichie's ability in this regard, mixed with her mordant wit, makes her observations, as a Nigerian immigrant, on race and gender in America both enlightening and jolting ... to the entire political spectrum of non-black Americans, from the do-goodie white liberal to the raging white conservative. Just a couple of illustrative quotes: “Race doesn't really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don't have that choice.” “If you’re telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don’t complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise you get no sympathy. This applies only for white liberals, by the way. Don’t even bother telling a white conservative about anything racist that happened to you. Because the conservative will tell you that YOU are the real racist and your mouth will hang open in confusion.”Ms. Adichie (who is, by the way, a stunning beauty) peppers her novel with this razor-sharp wit as she bespangles it with unique and shiny characters, mesmerizing the reader with eurhythmic dialogue and wringing the heart with a story of the protracted separation of young lovers into different cultures and the resulting moral dilemma many humans face, whether in reality, what-ifs or "I could see that happening to me."Specifically, what if the amorous relationship appeared to one lover as kaput after years of waiting, but not to the other, and the former justifiably moves on, getting married and starting a family, only to have the latter return in hopes of resuming the bond where it was last left. I know I'm late to the game on this novel. Nonetheless I'll say, for those later than me, I highly recommend this novel.

  • Sidharth Vardhan
    2019-03-11 18:33

    "when white people say dark they mean Greek or Italian but when black people say dark they mean Grace Jones"Weak as a love story but powerful in its social commentary. I found a lot of similarities between people of Nigeria described here and that of India- people wanting to migrate to developed countries and real estate being the only investment that attracts the rich. " There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.” Then, there are migrant problems - the social and psychological stress they have to bear. The best parts though are Ifemelu's sometimes angry blogs about racism in U.S.A. It is not always about the dark racism that is pointed out in the book, sometimes it is nice white people trying hard not to be racist:"Kimberly was smiling the kindly smile of people who thought “culture” the unfamiliar colorful reserve of colorful people, a word that always had to be qualified with “rich.” She would not think Norway had a “rich culture.”Adichie is powerful and honest in her social observations and it is that which makes this otherwise weak love story ( it is so real that it is boring) worthwhile."Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.""In America, racism exists but racists are all gone. Racists belong to the past. Racists are the thin-lipped mean white people in the movies about the civil rights era.""American Blacks and American Whites use drugs at the same rate (look this up), but say the word “drugs” and see what image comes to everyone’s mind."

  • Cas
    2019-02-18 19:55

    I enjoyed this writer's previous novels and expected to like this one too, but I was disappointed. There are several reasons for this but the one that had the most impact was the sense that the writer wasn't sure what type of novel this should be. Was it a love story, a story of immigration, the story of black people in today's America - the issues all merely rolled out but never properly addressed - or was it an attempt to educate readers on the differences between the various ethnic black groups in the States? Or was it a guide to the perils of hair weaving and hair relaxing? Adichie has tried to cover too much ground and the result is something that is shallow and cliched. For example, the heroine seemed to be saying that, as a Nigerian immigrant, she was in some way better than these other groups, members of which which are often portrayed in a shallow, derogatory manner. Adichie's underlying tone is angry at times, very anti-US, which hardly makes her unique. So, what was she really trying to do? I couldn't connect with the heroine who seemed to be another incarnation of the main characters from her earlier novels, simply transported to a different setting. And why such an emphasis on hair and weaves? Make the point, yes, but enough is enough. The novel was overlong, too slow in getting going, repetitive and dull.

  • Carol
    2019-03-21 18:58

    The Hook - A promise to myself to get to some of those books on my TBR pile. One down, thousands to go.The Line – “How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.”The Sinker – I loved the journey I took with the author and characters in Americanah, what I call more a story of love than one of race or color. This is not to say I didn’t think about race or color because I did. What struck me most about his is how little I know about what is referred to as Non-American Blacks as opposed to Black Americans. I also know little about the differences in the culture and traditions of people living in the African countries. I also enjoyed all the banter about black hair vs. my Italian tresses. I will be thinking about the relationship of the main characters, Ifemelu and Obinze and hope to get a chance to talk to some friends about them.Americanah was an enjoyable audio listen narrated by Adjoa Andoh. While Andoh brought life beautifully to most characters, the children’s voices were nail on a chalkboard for me. Truly though, this is a minor quibble and may not even be noticed by others. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a fine storyteller, if a bit wordy, beautiful wordy, nonetheless. There are many fine reviews of Americanah and I have no great revelations. I have plans to go back and read other books by Adiche, as I know I will be missing something if I don’t.

  • Kinga
    2019-03-15 19:48

    Adichie and I seem to share sensibilities and I often mention her as one of my favourite authors, even if I often think she lets herself off too easily. Which is another thing we seem to have in common, as I tend to let myself off too easily too. What I mean by that is that I wanted more, let’s call it, ‘epicness’. Adichie is a wonderful writer and she can churn out a great book without really trying. I want to know what would happen if she really tried. Americanah is really Race 101 and you would think America doesn’t need Race 101 because they should be doing AP courses by now. And yet, reading some of the reviews I was shocked to realise even this basic message went over some people’s heads.Other than race and hair, this is really a story of love of two people who feel so real you almost want to be friends with them (and I know I never say anything about characters ‘likeability’, but I did like these people despite their flaws. I must say I was more involved with Obinze’s story – not because parts of it were more tragic, but because there was something raw about it. Maybe I just had a crush on the guy. Apart from Ifemelu and Obinze, the rest of the characters might seem a bit cardboard, her other boyfriends were ‘types’ more than people. But in a way that’s what we do in our memory. We reserve complex portraits for our true love and all the other old flames eventually get reduced to ‘the one whose mother hated me’, ‘the one who took his guitar everywhere, even the bathroom’, etc. What Adichie excels at is the social observations, all those everyday scenes, strips of dialogue, that reveal so much about the topics that interest her, like immigrants and class. It was very interesting to read an immigrant story with the class aspect thrown into the mix. Immigrants usually exist outside of class (especially at first), they are in the class of their own, because the locals can’t tell where to place them – their accents are just foreign accents, their education usually means nothing and neither does their family background. When Ifemelu arrives in the US from Nigeria, her middle class identity is taken away from her and she is given a new one – that of a black person. From now, whether she likes it or not, it would be her first identity, anything else will come after that. This is mostly what this book is about.It’s also about the usual immigrant woes – loneliness and disconnection. Even if you return you won’t be home, you’ve been changed and you’re destined to always miss something, some part of your life that is elsewhere. Trust me, I’m an immigrant.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-16 20:49

    I enjoyed Adichie's novel Purple Hibiscus, but this book was a slog, for multiple reasons. I wish Adichie had written a memoir, rather than a semi-autobiographical, overly-long, meandering novel wherein we are treated to the narrator's supercilious, self-important observations about immigration, race, and class. The observations are keen and I don't disagree with their general message, but the delivery is smug and repetitive, an endless series of cocktail and dinner party scenes where the narrator mocks the ridiculousness of liberal and conservative Americans. Moreover, these scenes make the same points over and over again -- all Americans think Africa is one country, all Americans are simpering and insincere in their desire to undertake charity, all Americans mistake organic food and yoga for real taste and authentic social justice, all Nigerians are insecure and striving, and so on and so on. The narrator, Ifemeulu, is thoroughly unlikable because no one is perfect enough to inhabit her world alongside her (except perhaps her love Obinze and her cousin Dike). For nearly 500 pages, Ifemulu judges, judges, judges, and she's never wrong. Even Ifemulu's own flaws, such as lying and cheating, are portrayed as justifiable responses to the petty jealousies and insecurities of those around her. She never grows as a character. My overall sense is that Adichie attempts too much in this book-- she wanted to write an epic story of love, immigration, identity, belonging, race, and class. Instead she wrote an exhaustive novel with no action and self-satisfied "wink wink nudge nudge" musings that, in the end, make the author and the book insufferable. There's a line in the book where one of the earnest, clueless Americans (there are so many) tells Ifemulu that "it must be so hard to write a book about race in America." It was here that I lost patience, because Adichie is positioning herself- via Ifemulu-- as a visionary. While the overall content of the observations may be spot-on, the beating-the-dead-horse nature of the novel shows intolerance -- over time, the book becomes less and less about race and immigration, and more about Ifemulu's (and perhaps Adichie's) pure distaste for the flaws of human beings, whatever their color, class, or creed. There's no compassion, and I'm not sure how something so devoid of empathy can be at all visionary.

  • Elyse
    2019-03-15 16:36

    Lots to chew on in "Americanah"!! I liked it!!! *Note to my friends from last year...( 2 thumbs up for me: did I break the tie?) To chew ... To chew ... To chew....on: .... Immigration experiences. .... A love story.... Race relations....( especially American-Africans).... Class hierarchy in America.... Tribalism.... Kinky African hair.....Nigerian born heroine ..... Philosophies, values, morals, etc. Ifemelu began life in Nigeria which existed under military dictatorship. She attended Lagos secondary school where she fell in love with Obinze. He would be the great love of her life. Ifemelu and Obinze both dreamed of leaving Nigeria, which was a common dream to get out of the country whenever possible. Eventually with the help of family, Ifemelu was able to come to America and study. Her early experiences in America were a struggle with money. Her family would send what they could, as she was not allowed to work legally. She was on a student visa. At one point a friend found a way to let her use somebody else's Social Security number to get a job, which did not turn out well. ( a humiliating experience). Finally, she does get a job with the help of a friend working as a babysitter for a white liberal couple. She takes care of their two children, and she becomes friends with the family. After finishing her undergraduate career, Ifemelu decides to start a blog about her observations of race. She calls it RACETEENTH.... or "Various observations about American Blacks." She write about taboo subjects....( and part satire) ...issues about hair in the working world, Black & White lovers, and how she is regarded by her men friends. She also is trying to figureout what her readers want -what will be popular and what will generate 'likes'. Meantime Obinze is having his own immigration experience in Britain. He overstays his visa. He, too, try to get an illegal job. And in order to legitimize his presence in the country he planned a sham marriage to a British citizen. However he was found out and deported back to Nigeria. Once he is back in his country of Nigeria he begins to flourish as a wealthy businessman. He has a beautiful wife and a daughter when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria. This book is a huge - wonderful epic saga. The novels greatness ( IMO) is examining and observing the issues at hand in our culture ... 'more' than about the characters themselves. I was less invested on the outcome ( the ending), than I 'was/am' interested in our judgments, prejudices, and lifestyle cultural differences. The novel also grapples with confusion, dislocation, and deep sorrow at being torn away from a society which one has drawn it strength, and making peace with a foreign culture and it's values. The writing flows. I thoroughly enjoyed this book... And is looking forward to seeing the movie this year.

  • Mari
    2019-03-20 15:30

    Check out my review and discussion of Americana.I started this book at the beginning of this year and put it aside after a single chapter because I wasn't convinced I would enjoy it. This is why I come back to books, because sometimes I'm wrong and sometimes it takes a second look. I'm so glad I gave Americanah another chance because it is one of just a few 5 star books I've read this year. It is smart, funny, well written, sincere and overall something to be experienced. I want to use the word important, because it feels that way, but that gives the false impression that there is something to learn here or that Americanah will try to teach you something. I don't think that it does. I think this is the story of one woman's experiences, one man's experiences, steeped in class and race politics, perhaps looking at places, sections of society and people you've seen little of or never been exposed to. And if you have, if you know people like Ifemelu or know the places she's walked, seeing it reflected in this story I think becomes such an experience, in and of itself. Ifemelu is a flawed character, one that I was invested in but not necessarily rooting for. I didn't always agree with her decisions, but I still felt for how they complicated her life. I think her voice is so well-defined and sharp and smart. One of my highest praises is saying that I would reread a book and I would certainly reread this one. I think there must be so much more that I missed in the blog posts and in the commentary and in the interactions and I'd love to pick it all up during a second (or third or fourth) reread.

  • Julie Ehlers
    2019-02-26 22:45

    There's nothing better than starting a new novel and getting the feeling, pretty much immediately, that you're in safe hands. Somehow, it takes only a few pages for a really good author to communicate that she knows what she's doing and you can relax and settle in. That was definitely the case with Americanah. I can be a bit apprehensive about committing to a book with 400+ pages, but here, particularly in the first three-fourths of the book, there was nothing not to like. The characters were vivid, the language strong and unique, the plot riveting. The use of setting was amazing. I read so many books that it sometimes doesn't take long for the details of one to slip from my memory, but the places in this book and the way the main character, Ifemelu, related to them came alive on the page and are still alive for me now. This look at a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to the United States was different from any immigrant narrative I've read thus far; Ifemelu is lucky among immigrants in that she comes to the U.S. legally to study at a well-regarded university, so while there was something universal about her struggles, they also felt entirely particular to her. I was struck by her clear sense of no longer feeling like she fully belongs anywhere: not in America, not in Lagos, and not among other immigrants who've come back to Lagos. This felt very poignant and true. I also appreciated the look at Nigeria—its recent past as well as its up-to-the minute present. It made me realize how little I know and how much more I want to learn.There were a couple things that prevented me from giving Americanah the full five stars. The first is that Adichie seems to want show Ifemelu as a keen observer of people, but for me this nearly always came across as her judging everyone harshly. I suspect Adichie meant for some of this to be humorous, but I didn't really feel the humor, and it got so I'd cringe every time a new character was introduced and I anticipated Ifemelu's assessment of this poor unsuspecting person. More importantly, I wish more of the narrative was told from Obinze's point of view. I often got so absorbed in Ifemelu's longer sections that when Obinze suddenly turned up again, it was quite jarring. Plus, because so much more of the book was from Ifemelu's point of view, I never really felt like I knew Obinze as well—which didn't serve him in the last section of the book, when he sadly began to feel like a very typical sort of character to me. For me, a 50/50 split between the two characters' viewpoints would have made this great book even better.Despite these quibbles, I loved Americanah and was so happy to find that Adichie's work lived up to its advance billing. I hope she's working on a new novel, because whatever it is, I really want to read it.Americanah is the first book in my 2018 Read Like Greta project. Thanks to Greta Gerwig for inspiring me to finally read this!

  • V. PARENTAL GUIDANCE ALERT:A Court of Wings and Ruin is NEW ADULT/EROTICA but Goodreads editors won't tell you
    2019-03-12 18:43

    DNF so no starsReview to comeUpdate March 8thUNPOPULAR OPINION ALERTRANT ALERT WITH candid OPINION ON DIFFICULT TOPICS,About three things I AM absolutely positive:First, Americanah is not the best read for those of us who are starting to discover Diverse reads and diverse authors. Second, there's a part of the goodreads community-and I don’t know how numerous that part might be-that is afraid to give low ratings to books that recieve critical praise.And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with adverbs, they help to save us from unncessary long books.I don't think I'll be completely coherent in this review (ehem, more like a rant) but you've been warned.Here's the thing. If you like me like to watch booktube videos you probably remember how a booktuber came to "the defense" of author Victoria Schawb after several twitter users called her out for the lack of diversity in her books. Why Schwab is getting the sh$t on this, when SJM and other authors get a free pass, it's beyond me. Anyway this booktuber who is also a huge supporter of the white supremacist group Alt-right got angry and posted a video saying more or less that "diversity is the worst word ever"Seriously? So "death" "Murder" "starvation" "poverty" "missing child" "sick child" "cancer" "pain" "rape" "racism" "ableism" are words that mean nothing to her? How come the word "diversity" could be the worst word? Her video made me cry. She doesn't even realize how racist she sounds, even though she herself doesn't consider herself racist.“In America, racism exists but racists are all gone. Racists belong to the past. Racists are the thin-lipped mean white people in the movies about the civil rights era. Here’s the thing: the manifestation of racism has changed but the language has not. So if you haven’t lynched somebody then you can’t be called a racist. If you’re not a bloodsucking monster, then you can’t be called a racist. Somebody has to be able to say that racists are not monsters.”I thought that racism and ableims were things of our past that you could only read in dystopias. Funny thing is that she sounded so hateful that Victoria Scwhab disowned her comments.That was last September, and then there came the Carve the Mark debacle. Suddenly I was, like many other readers, craving for diverse reads. I joined a couple of Diverse-books forums and started to add books from authors from diverse backgrounds featuring diverse characters. When Americanah was chosen by my diverse-reads club I was happy. The blurb makes it look like a romantic love story of two people separated by circumsntaces that are beyond their control. Sounded like a fun read although it was evident that this wasn't a safe romance.At the beginning I was really enjoying the book. I'm willing to support diverse read as long as they are entertaining. I read for fun! I don't read because I want to become a better person or to learn or anything, I read because I love to live different lives, I read because it's something I really enjoy. In the process I learn and sometimes I become aware of things, but that's just an after-effect. It's not the reason I read at all. I read mostly for fun.“Race doesn't really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don't have that choice.” The first half of the book was really good. The blog entries were really interesting and Ifemelu journey was totally relatable. I remember being in a foreign country for 2 weeks when I was sixteen. I was too immature I guess, by the end of the fourth day I was already homesick . I became like Fleur D'lacour (harry potter series) and critized everything and then I was at the same time trying to fit in the foreign country and noticing the cultural differences, admiring and envying the ways the people from this country did things differently than in Australia at times, at others wondering why they had to complicate things for themselves. That was only 2 weeks and a half of my life. Imagine living that YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. You want to fit in a new country without forgetting your country and you don't feel like you fit anywhere. Ifemelu might come across as overcritical and judgemental of her nativie country and of her new country but I think I understand why she feels so out of place.“How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.”But It grows tiresome!!!!! This book is so long! I had to skim to the last chapters and she's still going on and on about what makes her different. Have you read The absolute true diary of a half time indian? That book also portrays with difficult topics, and the fish out of water, and racism and IMHO is also overrated, but that book makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me rage. Arnold spirit mentions the problems he has for not being part of the priviliged group, but in doing so, he also acknowledges the problematic of white poor people like Penelope and he mentions that there's a place in his hometown where white dudes are even poorer than indians. That makes us relate to Arnold and his problems much, much better. Ngozi Adichie didn't make me connect with the problems of Ifemelu the way that Sherman Alexie made me connect with Arnold.The author has a very clever mind. I enjoy the blog posts a lot and I'll read Adichie's non-fiction works. But as for this book I think Ngozi was too worried trying to follow the literary rules (NO 1st person narrative, no adverbs, no epilogues) to focus on the story. I wish I could read her draw drafts and notes, because IMHO after Ngozi gave birth to her book premise she tried to make it a piece worth of literary praise. And that ruined it for me. I think this book would have worked better in first person and with less focus in the "realistic" romance. BTW Do you know that a lot of literary experts don't like books like Harry Potter because JK rowling uses adverbs? This book seems to have been written to appeal those kind of experts.“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.. It seemed so natural, to talk to him about odd things. She had never done that before. The trust, so sudden and yet so complete, and the intimacy, frightened her.. But now she could think only of all the things she yet wanted to tell him, wanted to do with him.” The romance is one of the worst I've read. Cheating everywhere!! How can I root for this two to be together if that means that the little girl will lose her father and the wife will lose her husband? Is that supposed to be realistic? Because it doesn't. It comes across as cliche. It's like the contemporary shelf is the cheating shelf. Whether you're reading Dragon Tattoo or gone girl or a contemporary romance you find cheating everywhere. The moment that Ifemelu is willing to sleep with a married man, she loses the sympathy of a lot of readers. I would prefer to read something that presents the characters (disregarding their ethnicities) in a positive light. I doubt I'm the only one who prefers that, therefore my initial comment: THis isn't the best book to understand the problem of immigration. You get too distracted with the whole adultery thing. What a waste of a beautiful prose!The ending in theory is happy. But I keep thinking of the people that this ending will hurt. Innocent people who didn't deserve what the happy couple did to them. And an epilogue would have been so good! But literary experts says that epilogues aren't necessary, so we don't get to read one.ConclusionI recommend this book to fans of beautiful prose and literary fiction. If you have traveled out of your country, you might understand Ifemelu better.If you don't have a humongous TBR pile and got plenty of time to read and you're a patient reader, I think you might enjoy the book. This is the kind of book that, like the classics, was written for people who can devote a lot of time to a single book. I don't recommend if you feel unconfortable reading about cheating couples and social criticism. If you prefer 1st person narrative stay away. Don't get fooled by the promising blurb. This book isn't a romance. It's a social issues book pretending to be a romance. "realistic" and romance IMHO shouldn't ever be in the same sentence.I don't regret the time I spent on this. I might finish one day, but I won't continue for now. If you like me read for fun and are searching for entertaining diverse reads, don't give up! There are plenty of diverse reads that are gripping page-turners.

  • Asgrl
    2019-02-24 15:32

    This was so good I cried. It felt like someone finally got it. That feeling of straddling your good but humble african upbringing, realizing the benefits of coming to America but struggling to fit in because of issues you had no previous understanding of but are dumped in to sink or swim. I was worried about reading this book because of pre-interviews I had seen which made it appear as though she was very "Marie Antoinette" like in her understanding of the plight of the average Nigerian as some of us "privileged" few lucky to be educated abroad are. However she surpassed all my expectations. Accurately describing that feeling of going home and knowing that society is skewed towards those who have the ability to do "gra gra" unfortunately you unwittingly become a madam yourself in your quest to avoid being taken advantage of. I loved this book. I love this era of new voices like her and Issa Rae who finally speak for us awkward black girls who are often torn and conflicted due to our multicultural experiences and backgrounds.

  • kohey
    2019-03-10 14:38

    Yeah,VIBRANCY oozing through the pages!No-miracle,that-is-the-way-love-goes story dripping with PASSION.Helps me stop to wonder how arrogant it is labelling people as“Blacks”for our easy definition.For some the word Black doesn’t exist.We just make it.

  • Paul
    2019-02-24 22:43

    I loved this book; even though it was long and essentially a romance, but there was so much more to it. It is also about race, gender and the nature of home. As the Guardian review points out, it is an exploration of structural inequality and types of oppression, but it is wrapped in a love story. The novel revolves around Ifemelu and Obinze and their on/off relationship over time and distance. It starts in their teenage years in Nigeria and follows them around the world; Ifemelu to the US and Obinze to Britain and back to Nigeria. One of the delights of this is the way Adichie addresses and explores the complexity of relationships and the way we do things inexplicable even to ourselves; there is a great deal of warmth and I felt Adichie really cared for both of the characters she had created. There is an excellent supporting cast who slip in and out of the pages.This quite conventional romance is used to explore a variety of oppressions. Race is explored, especially in the American context and via Ifemelu’s experiences and a very sharply written blog. Obinze’s experiences in Britain are more painful and Adiche captures the growing and irrational fear of asylum seekers and immigrants that is alarmingly growing in this country. Relating to gender, Adichie has described this book as feminist (see her interview in the LA Times; if I was remotely computer competent I would provide a link, but I’m not so you’ll have to Google it!). Adiche addresses gender issues with a light but sure touch and was fascinated to read that she had inspired one of Beyonce’s recent songs (Flawless). It strikes me as I am writing this that one of Adichie’s gifts is to wrap some of the complex issues she addresses in a simple and easy to read story. I think it is un usual in a romance to get such a well balanced analysis of two characters in a relationship. The return to Nigeria is interesting and addressed well with some satirically comic moments (the inherent comedy is one of the joys of this book). The whole in its scope and richness of character reminded me of Dickens (especially the scenes in the hairdresser). It’s a good book. I’m reading Infinite Jest at the moment and this is half as long, easier to read, has no footnotes and there is a lot less tennis (definitely a plus).

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-03-02 22:52

    I thought this book would take me days to read because of its tiny font and many pages, but it actually only took me a couple of days. That just goes to show how fantastic this book is. I've only read one other of Chimamanda's books - "Half of a Yellow Sun" - so I kind of thought that I knew what I was going into. However, "Americanah" is very different! The tone of voice is so honest and Chimamanda's many observations of American vs. Nigerian culture are remarkable. This is a book about the culture clash between the third world and the western world. It's a book about dreaming and hoping for a better life and then realizing what that better life is actually all about. Ifem, the main character, is funny, honest and very interesting, and I wanted for her to be my best friend! Some of her remarks on American culture were on point (however, I'm judging as a non-American!). One thing that I liked about this book is the way the plot is structured. I thought we would follow Ifem, who lives in Nigeria and then decides to split from her boyfriend to go to America. However, we meet Ifem as she is about to return to Nigeria after having lived in the States for 15 years, and so this story becomes a long flashback on her life in Nigeria, her move to America and her changes during all those years. I have high praise for this book - my only problem with it is that to me, it sometimes felt more like a non-fictional book on blacks in America and not a fictional story on Ifem and her life. I felt like Chimamanda was lashing out a bit too much, giving us endless examples of the differences between the two countries. Don't get me wrong - I loved those observations, but at times I did miss feeling like being in a fictional world. "Americanah" is such an interesting book that broadened my perspective on Nigeria and black people in America - I most definitely recommend it to everyone!