Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Book: Americanah
‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a powerful, tender story of race and identity. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is also the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.
Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
In this sprawling book, Adichie puts racism, the dark malaise of “choicelessness” and the changing face of global politics under her microscope.
Part fairy tale, part adventure, the ambitious novel follows Ifemelu and Obinze with attention and sympathy, charting their humiliations and indignities, their failures and successes, capturing in empathetic detail what happens when people go in search of choice and certainty far from home.
“You are in a country that is not your own,” Uju tells Ifemelu. “You do what you have to do if you want to succeed.”
As Ifemelu does her best to fit in, to learn her new home, to be one of the girls – drinking beer and discussing Tobey Maguire, learning the ways of frat parties and pre-approved credit cards – she quietly wonders about her friends:
“How did they know when to laugh, what to laugh about?”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Book: Americanah is licensed for publication in 29 languages.
Ifemelu finds an outlet to her frustrations and observations by writing an increasingly popular blog, with musings such as “Why Dark-skinned Black Women – Both American and Non-American – Love Barack Obama” and “To My Fellow Non-American Blacks: In America, You Are Black, Baby.”
Her online postings turn her into a sought-after speaker on the hot-button topics of race, diversity and multiculturalism and help to land her a prestigious fellowship.
Meanwhile, Obinze toils in English toilets, warehouses and construction sites, envying others their freedom: “You can work, you are legal, you are visible, and you don’t even know how fortunate you are.”
Adichie is terrific on human interactions – some of the strongest set pieces are dinner party scenes, in which well-intentioned, well-educated and moneyed people speak with open hearts and narrow minds, casually exposing their limitations and blind spots.
Other revelatory episodes include Ifemelu’s extended visit to a New Jersey hair salon and Obinze’s charming relationship with his co-workers in a bleak corner of Essex.
AWARDS / DISTINCTIONS
– Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, 2013
– Listed among the New York Times Book Review’s “Ten Best Books of 2013”
– Winner of The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction, 2013
– An NPR “Great Reads” Book, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Seattle Times Best Book, an – Entertainment Weekly Top Fiction Book, a Newsday Top 10 Book, and a Goodreads Best of the Year pick
– Winner of the “One Book, One New York” campaign, 2017
Praise for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
“Witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic…a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us…A steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Superb…Americanah is that rare thing in contemporary literary fiction: a lush, big-hearted love story that also happens to be a piercingly funny social critique.” – Vogue
“An incredibly readable and rich tapestry of Nigerian and American life, and the ways a handful of vivid characters…try to live in both worlds simultaneously…Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently, equally adept at conveying the complicated political backdrop of Lagos as she is in bringing us into the day-to-day lives of her many new Americans…This is a very funny, very warm and moving intergenerational epic that confirms Adichie’s virtuosity, boundless empathy and searing social acuity.” – Dave Eggers
“Adichie is uniquely positioned to compare racial hierarchies in the United States to social striving in her native Nigeria. She does so in this new work with a ruthless honesty about the ugly and beautiful sides of both nations.” – The Washington Post
“[A] knockout of a novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color…It’s a marvel of skilled construction and imagination.” – NPR
“Fearless. A towering achievement…From the place of Africans in the race politics in America, to love across continents, Americanah dares to bring us a world of a confident and self-made woman making her way in these complicated times. This is the Africa of our future. Sublime, powerful and the most political of [Adichie’s] novels. She continues to blaze the way forward.” – Binyavanga Wainaina
“Gorgeous…for all the significant subjects that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tackles, Americanah’s structure is an old-fashioned, deeply satisfying one: a love story about two people who are meant to be together, but [whom] life contrives to keep apart…Americanah is a bright, bold book with unforgettable swagger that proves it sometimes takes a newcomer to show Americans to ourselves.” – The Dallas Morning News
“Part love story, part social critique, and one of the best [novels] you’ll read this year…These characters are richly drawn…When parts of the plot seem familiar — the perils of emigration, the difficulties of being a foreigner in a new land — Adichie digs in deeply, finding a way to make them fresh.” – Los Angeles Times
“Brave…Americanah tackles the U.S. race complex with a directness and brio no U.S. writer of any color would risk…[The novel] brings a cleansing frankness to an old, picked scab on the face of the Republic. It’s not healing, and it’s not going away.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A near-flawless novel, one whose language so beautifully captures the surreal experience of an African becoming an American that one walks away with the sense of having read something definitive…Americanah is both intellectually expansive and urgently intimate, a story about the crushing experience of finding your way in a new land — and the physical and emotional lengths one goes to [in order] to feel whole again.” – The Seattle Times
“Adichie’s great gift is that she has always brought us into the territory of the previously unexplored. She writes about that which others have kept silent. Americanah is no exception. This is not just a story that unfolds across three different continents, it is also a keenly observed examination of race, identity and belonging in the global landscapes of Africans and Americans. If Joyce had silence, exile and cunning for his defense, Adichie has flair, loss and longing. And Adichie is brave enough to allow the story to unfold with a distinct straightforward simplicity that never loses its edgy intellect.” – Colum McCann
“An important book…its strength and originality lie with the meticulous observation about race—about how embarrassed many Americans are about racial stereotypes, even as they continue to repeat them, [and] about how casual racism still abounds.” – The Economist
“Adichie is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love—and what it takes to become a ‘full human being.’” – Booklist
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Book: Americanah