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Monday, 21 April 2014

Americanah, 2013, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *****

A year has passed since I published about Americanah's release, please click here to read. Luckily, I was able to borrow an electronic copy from a library.
Firstly, "Americanah" is (not only) a captivating love story. Ifemelu and Obinze were lovers from high school in Nigeria, they went to the same university, and swore never to stay away from each other. However, due to the continuous strikes (which still take place today), Ifemelu, eventually, had to leave for the United States of America. The lovebirds promised to stay in touch. Nevertheless, Ifemelu was forced to lock Obinze out of her life after going through an unpleasant experience.
As the story unfolds, Ifem started to discover and embrace her new identity in the U.S.A, especially as a "black woman", she went into a romantic relationship with a rich white American, who really loved her. Though, their commitment was put to an end for reasons Ifememlu was sorely to blame. In my opinion, she somehow wanted it to happen. Following that, she started seeing an African American, with whom, still, she felt something was lacking. That was when she considered moving back to Nigeria.
On the other hand, Obinze still confused about Ifemelu's silence, finally was able to travel to the UK when his plans to travel to U.S.A ended in a fiasco. His experiences as an undocumented immigrant was tough that he disgracefully ended up deported.
After all those years of separation, the lovebirds met where they initially started, and the feelings they have for each other was just as strong as before.

Personally, "Americanah" fulfilled its aim; I had a nice, pleasant, entertaining and enjoyable read, but despite the pleasure derived, the storyline was overly clichéd. Again, the sense of disconnectedness in Ifemelu's (interesting) blog posts was evident. I also felt that the writer (Chimamanda) was unrelenting in how she intervened in the telling of the story, I would have much more loved to reach conclusions myself. Furthermore, this novel should not have been that long, Adichie could have wanted to save her opinion in a collection of essays like Chinua Achebe did in The Education of a British-Protected Child. So said, Americanah was neither mind-blowing nor about anything in particular. Well,
“Why did people ask "What is it about?" as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
Who said that novels must be mind-blowing in order to be enjoyable? What are novels made for anyway? If not to read and to have fun? So, regardless of my criticisms, Americanah was a page-turner. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an impressive story teller. Moreover, she has made a name for herself and can write about whatever that pleases her, which of course I will always read. Nonetheless, I will always try as much as possible to call a spade a spade. Lastly, I highly recommend (to adults). It was a quick and easy read.

Another similar novel I'd recommend if you enjoyed Americanah is In Dependence

Please click here to read review on ImageNations and here to read review in Spanish by Literafrica.

8 comments:

  1. Nice. You saw the same criticisms. In addition, the ending was problematic to me. But we put different weights on them. LOL. Interesting.

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    1. why was it?? the rushing?? or why delay the obvious?

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  2. I really need to read this book.

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    1. You should! :-), I think it's what you'll like.

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  3. I've read this book Mary; it only needs my review. I agree with you on almost all the points raised. I believe it was too long a narrative. The posts on racism, though good were overdone (well I've never been a victim of racism).

    As for the storyline, being overly cliched, that might be true but you see all Chimamanda said was truly reflective of campus love and life and how the young ones saw it then. I've been there and I witnessed the craze firsthand of the love for 'yankee' and the UK. Form me I think that's; the part I enjoyed most in the novel; the love story and campus life.

    The ending did not sit too well with me either. But I tell you Mary, such a thing can happen and it does happen!

    Wonderful review!

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    1. I am not sure why people are complaining about the end. Yeah Afua, actually I enjoyed every bit of the novel, perhaps, since it is Adichie I was expecting more. The novel was a complete page-turner, In fact my first 5 stars read so far this year.

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  4. Adichie is a wonderful writer. Her short stories, all of which I've read, have knocked me out. I plan on reading her other novels. I can see why this brilliant woman has received a MacArthur Genius Award. I highly recommend this book.

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  5. Mary thanks for this review - just read her book and loved it ... it is the most enjoyable book I have read from her so far .. without a doubt

    I like that African / Black women authors can be this open and forthright with opinions and commentary about the society we live in, and about the things experienced on a daily basis. I like that this book self reflects but does not shy away from the big glaring issues that we know are there but call by other names to soften or make it acceptable.

    Isn't this reflection in Americanah just priceless?

    " ... somehow my mom’s experience is suddenly unnuanced. ‘Nuance’ means keep people comfortable so everyone is free to think of themselves as individuals and everyone got where they are because of their achievement.”

    and this is my absolute best from Chimamanda ..

    "So if you’re going to write about race, you have to make sure it’s so lyrical and subtle that the reader who doesn’t read between the lines won’t even know it’s about race. You know, a Proustian meditation, all watery and fuzzy, that at the end just leaves you feeling watery and fuzzy.” “Or just find a white writer. White writers can be blunt about race and get all activist because their anger isn’t threatening,” Grace said.

    May more and more African/Black writers be so bold and start defining the literature landscape - our lives, stories, opinions and conditions whether on the continent or diaspora, is THE story could rearrange a skewed representation

    I liked Chimamanda before and now I really dig her! I just felt that freedom of writing without the constraint of what is acceptable. Simply stunning

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