Thursday, 23 June 2016

Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Pages: 477
Genres: Literary Fiction

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
A powerful coming of age story focusing on the loss and re-connection of a first love. Americanah follow the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze as they grow up in Lagos, Nigeria. When Ifemelu goes to America to continue her education she fully expects Obinze to join her later but fate has other plans. The young couple become estranged and are separated for thirteen years. Americanah examines their lives, their triumphs, their failures, their heartaches - navigating a world that was harsher than they ever imagined.

I really enjoyed Americanah, it absolutely fascinated me and I relished the cultural details about living in Nigeria but also about being African in America. So many issues are wryly dissected or examined such as hair, race, immigration, culture, family, tradition, religion, interracial relationships, friendships - the list could go on and on. Adichie left no stone unturned, no issue unaddressed. I felt that the relationship between Ifemelu and Obinze was really authentic and I often forgot that I was reading about fictional characters.

What was great about this book was that it didn't just focus on Ifemelu and Obinze alone, their friends and relatives lives were also really relevant and interesting. I especially loved Aunty Uju and Dike's story. At times the narrative did seem a tad too detailed and was slow in places, there was also such an array of characters it was hard to keep track of at points. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will definitely be picking up more of Adichie's books.

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