Review of AMERICANAH by CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
I loved this book, no doubt because it’s all about character. I would describe it both as a sweeping love story as well as an immigration saga. The book opens with Ifemelu, who emigrated from Nigeria to the United States. From there, the story tips back to tell of her passionate college relationship with Obinze. A recent reconnection with him makes Ifemelu reflect on her life from then to now.
I love the quality and quantity of conversations raised by this novel. After a brutal new immigrant experience, Ifemelu found financial stability in a blog about race. She specifically examines all the different variations of experience that find themselves rolled into one label. Nigerian emigrants have a vastly different perspective than African Americans, for example. The book further explores issues of race and perspective through Ifemelu’s relationships: her college sweetheart and fellow Nigerian Obinze, a white American, a black American. Every relationship is distinct and race is undeniably a factor.
I hesitate to call anything in this book authentic, because I am not qualified to assess that. I am not Nigerian and have never been to Nigeria. However, I will mention that Ifemelu makes several comments that I have also heard, sometimes word for word, from Nigerians I know who now live in the United States. So I may not have direct experience, but that alone convinced me this book must be a pretty authentic, relatable depiction of life for a Nigerian immigrating to the United States.
AMERICANAH is one of those books that I truly believe is for everyone, even if you’re not convinced. The writing is effortlessly seamless, the characters dynamic and compelling, the relationships all the more enthralling, and the themes highly relevant.