2018.36 – Americanah

I recently finished Americanah (ebook) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved it!

After reading so much Young Adult fiction this year, the thing that struck me most was the pace of the book. The plot went much slower, however it didn’t feel like it was dragging on and on. It was unpredictable, complex, but also enjoyable to read.

Culturally, I found myself a little lost, so I had to pause to research and learn more about Nigeria, Nigerian culture, and look up YouTube videos to hear how words are pronounced. I appreciated that it wasn’t so plot driven that I couldn’t allow myself a break to do some extra learning.

There are so many elements of this book I want to hold onto. One was the concept of race, which was amplified by the main character’s, Ifemelu, popular and anonymous blog “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known As Negroes) by a Non-American Black.” I loved that there were blog posts sprinkled throughout, and it made me think about how different people perceive each other, even within races. Additionally, it was interesting how Ifemelu mentions multiple times in the book about how race isn’t an issue in Nigeria. While I have zero background in this topic, it made me think in ways I never have before.

Also, reading this book made me think of one of my roommates when I was in grad school. She was from Nigeria, and didn’t seem very friendly. Now, I wonder if her being so quiet was less personality and more culture shock of being in the United States for the first time. In contrast, our other roommate, from India, was quick to chat with me and trade stories. But, she had a large group of friends, also from various parts of India, that she spent lots of time with.

I’m making a mental note that I need to reread this book in a few years. I think reading it a second time, and maybe finding a group of friends to discuss it with, would allow me to step back and better process beyond the plot and major themes.

I see there is an audiobook version for Americanah. I’m putting it on hold (though I might not listen to the whole thing), because I’m curious to hear how it is produced. It is read by Adjoa Andoh, a British actress. I want to hear the words and phrases is Igbo, and hear if there is a change in how Ifemelu speaks in the beginning, middle, and end of the book.

PS. If you haven’t seen her TED Talk, “The danger of a single story,” I highly recommend it!

Have you read any of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s other books? If so, which one(s) do you recommend?


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