Bite-size Review: Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


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Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


I must admit that before reading this novel I was originally sceptical due to my neutral fence against the ‘Chimamanda’ hype. Nonetheless, this book surprised me, and not just the good, gentle, ‘take your breath away’ kind of surprise, but the ‘oh-my-dear-God-did-she-really-just-write-this-I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-reading-somebody-slap-me-I’m-in-book-heaven’ kind of surprise. And I loved every moment – until the last quarter (we will come back to this). Americanah shares a story of two teenage lovers: Ifemelu and Obinze. When Ifemelu emigrates to the U.S. to gain a university degree, she inadvertently creates a new life for herself. Through her social and intimate encounters, Ifemelu blogs about her experiences and observations from the ‘Non-American Black’ perspective. On the flip side, Obinze illegally lives in the UK after his visa has expired. His encounters bear a bleak contrast to that of Ifemelu’s. Unapologetically, Adichie invites the reader into a candid discussion of race relations on friendly, insidious and cunning terms within a Western and African environment. Adichie has not created anything new with this story but rather she has created a story so relevant to everyone (in)distinctively “black”. The last quarter was a heart-wrenching disappointment: excessive with a staged love affair at times. However, this does not take away the powerful impression it leaves on the reader once the last word is read.

(Recommend 2013 hardback edition)


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