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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers, but Ifemelu departs for the United States to study as a result of Nigeria being under a military dictatorship. Obinze had hoped to join her, but is denied a visa after 9/11, and so heads to London instead, where he eventually becomes an undocumented immigrant.

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

What appears to be a love story on the surface is really about immigration, ethnicity, racism and belonging. It takes place across a few locations - Nigeria, the UK and the USA, and Adichie effortlessly glides between all three, whilst moving back and forth between the past and the present, as the story is told from the perspective of both Ifemelu and Obinze. It sounds like a lot is going on, but Adichie expertly juggles it all!

The plot flows seamlessly whilst Adichie creates well-developed and interesting characters, and is truly quite difficult to put down once you pick it up! Ifemelu is not the most likeable character, she’s bold and speaks her mind, yet I was fully invested in her own personal story, as well as her relationship with Obinze. This is my first foray into Adichie’s fiction and yet I can already tell she is fantastic at writing characters.

This book was really eye-opening for me. A lot of the perspectives and discussions between characters, and in particular Ifemelu’s blog posts, which I adored, made me more aware of the struggles that people of colour can face on a daily basis. Americanah is one of those books that is incredibly thought-provoking, and would probably lead to lots of insightful discussions and analysis if read as part of a book club. So if you happen to run a book club... I suggest this one!

I feel like I just want to be Adichie’s friend and listen to her talk about her thoughts on lots of different topics - her intelligence intimidates me, yet makes me want to read every word she’s ever written! Which I fully intend to do.

Already one of my favourite books of the year! ALL THE STARS.

Johann
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