Americanah

Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Gail Reid (07/31/14): When a Nigerian returns home after an extended stay in the U.S. for school or work, he or she is referred to as an "Americanah." So goes this story of a young woman, Ifemelu, who travels to the U.S. to finish college but extends her stay for 15 years. She leaves behind her high school sweetheart Obinze, whose stay as an expat in the U.K.ends much differently.

But so much more happens during those years before Ifemelu and Obinze reunite in Nigeria, no longer students but members of the upper middle class intelligentsia. What occurs during those 15 years makes this read so unique and so distinct. Ifemelu writes a blog in which she shares her observations as an African looking at race in America. In the U.S.observations on race by African Americans and Caucasians are familiar to us. But Ifemelu is African and not American, so when she writes about race in America, we get an entirely new perspective. We also get so much more: diatribes on the idiosyncracies of Americans; views on inter-racial relationships; the hopes of Africans and African-Americans for the Obama candidacy as well as insights from an intelligent and quick witted young woman from another culture. When she returns to Lagos, we learn even more about the middle class in present day Nigeria.

I think the author, Ms. Adichie is truly talented. Her ability to create believable and engaging dialogue as well as develop major and minor characters with fresh, spot-on observations contribute to a very memorable read.
Rating: *****

Faith Bowers (02/21/14): Two middle class Nigerian teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love in high school. Life under the dictatorship in Nigeria has students looking outward for their college education and Ifemelu gets a 3/4 scholarship to a college in Philadelphia.

The books starts out with Ifemelu returning back to Nigeria after a dozen years in the US. The novel is written in two first persons Ifemelu and Obinze, who tried immigration to England. Ms. Aidichie traces the two lovers stories interchanging their parallel lives throughout the book. Ifemelu becomes successful in the US by writing a blog about race. Obinze becomes a successful real estate developer back in Nigeria. The novel shares two immigration stories, personal growth and development for the two friends, their lives apart and intertwined. It shows us Nigeria as a before and after and a different side of our US. Though the book is almost 500 pages, it is a delightful and easy read. I never know if I was pronouncing the names correctly but who cares.

I want to thank all of you who writes for Women's Book Reviews. I read and enjoy many of your recommendations and also like that we start discussions on line with popular books. This particular book was recommended by our Bucks County Community College book club list. This list included another African immigration story and James McBride's historical fiction on the Civil War. Ameicanah was by far the best of the three.
Rating: *****

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