Americanah

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Fiction or Non-Fiction:  Fiction
Time period: Present
Book length: Very long
Cultural Learning (1-5 scale): 3.5
What communities does this book explore?   Immigrant, African, Black
Short summary of the book: With one foot in Nigeria and one foot in America,  Ifemelu tries to navigate living in America and losing her true love. Through Ifemelu, Adichie weaves a beautiful story from Ife’s present to her past in Nigeria and makes some cutting comparisons between life for African Americans and life for Africans in America, reminding us all that what it means to be black is distinct in American society. Through her blog, Ife comments on life for African Americans, experiences with interracial dating and the continual struggle of black hair, which provides insight into life in America and being an “Americanah”. When Ifemelu eventually returns to Nigeria and is reunited with her true love, questions remain as to whether America has changed her too much to go back.
Does the book address the role of this cultural identity in America? How? This book explores what it means to be black and how in America that identity can shape you in ways it never has before.
How does the book handle intersectionality or diversity within the community?  By telling the story from an African immigrant and outsider to the politics and cultural norms, Adichie helps highlight how many differences there are between Black Americans and African Immigrants and how through the eyes of white people they can all be pooled and reduced to being one in the same.
Quote from the book that might entice to read but also summarizes the style:

The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. 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.

Criticism of the book: This book is long and can ramble while also bouncing between time, place and narrator.
Best for readers who: enjoy a well told story that explores diversity in the African and African American community.
What others say about this book: One of the NYTimes ten best books of 2013, 2013 National Book Critics Circle, Chicago Tribune 2013 heartland Prize, among many others.  

 

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