“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
That is the perfect quote for talking about Americanah. This is not a book about only one thing. It is a book about race, love (both for yourself and romantic love), interracial relationships, leaving home to make a life for yourself in a new country, acceptance and hair.
As she prepares to return to Nigeria after years living in America, Ifemelu reflects on her life to date; on growing up in Nigeria, her family, her relationship with Obinze her high school boyfriend and everything that has happened since her move to the States.
“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.”
Things I like about the book; the sense of place. Adichie effortlessly switches between Nigeria, America and the UK making each of them leap from the page.
The dialogue, Adichie doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations.
The switch in point of view; in some of the chapters we follow Obinze and learn about his time in the UK.
Ifemelu’s blog posts are brilliantly written commentaries on the intricacies of not only being black in America, but being a Non-American Black.
Things I didn’t like/questioned about the book; the length. It was about 50 pages too long for me. Tighter editing would have gotten rid of some of the more indulgent passages.
I’m nitpicking now, but parts of Americanah are so raw and honest that I felt they wandered into memoir territory. This is hardly surprising for a semi autobiographical novel and isn’t necessarily a negative here, it just made me wish Adichie had written a memoir.
Overall, Americanah is a thoughtful novel that isn’t afraid to deal with issues that make people (and let’s be honest, it’s probably mainly white people) uncomfortable. This is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.