- Title: Americanah
- Author: Chimamanda
- Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
- Pages: 477
- Rating: 5 stars
2018 started off with me finish this book and I have been wondering how to write this. I first read it on kindle about 4 years ago when it was a hot new release. I had already read her previous three books so knew I was in for a treat. How do you give justice to such magnificence? How? I was underlining sentences and reading parts to whoever was near me at a particular time, laughing out loud while alone…I could go on. The depth of everything she touches and comments on from socio-politics to love to everything in between is astounding. By the way just so you know, I have only one way to describe writers who move me like this, Simply Elegant. Her writing is effortlessly and refreshingly elegant.
“Ifemelu would also come to learn that, for Kimberly, the poor were blameless. Poverty was a gleaming thing; she could not conceive of poor people being vicious or nasty because their poverty had canonized them, and the greatest saints were the foreign poor.”
“To be a child of the Third World is to be aware of the many different constituencies you have and how honesty and truth must always depend on context.”
“We are very ideological about fiction in this country. If a character is not familiar, then that character becomes unbelievable.”
“Foreign behavior? What the fuck are you talking about? Foreign behavior? Have you read Things Fall Apart? Ifemulu asked, wishing she had not told Ranyinudo about Dike. She was angrier with Ranyinudo than she had ever been, yet she knew that Ranyinudo meant well, and had said what many other Nigerians would say, which was why she had not told anyone else about Dike’s suicide attempt since she came back.”
She describes the various towns, schools, homes and countries; the various relationships, stereotypes and people; the various encounters with public officers, services and politics she has found herself with/in such humor and candidness, often punctuating her emotions with adjectives and descriptions that will utterly blow anyone away. I actually think it should be mandatory reading. For anyone. Everyone in fact. Like it’s the perfect conversation starter…for anything. I read it and had to give myself a few minutes to compose myself when I reached the last page. The book hangover was too real!
“You know it was love at first sight for both of us,” he said.
“For both of us? Is it by force? Why are you speaking for me?”
“I’m just stating a fact. Stop struggling.”
“Yes, it’s a fact,” she said.
“I love you.”
“She liked that he wore their relationship so boldly, like a brightly colored shirt. Sometimes she worried that she was too happy. She would sink into moodiness, and snap at Obinze, or be distant. And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.”
“She was after all the kind of woman who would make a man easily uproot his life, the kind who, because she did not expect or ask for certainty, made a certain kind of sureness become possible.”
“It’s strange how I have felt, with every major event that has occurred in my life, that you were the only person who would understand.”
Much as the foundation of the story is a love story set in post civil war Nigeria, the book is about so much more. You almost forget that there are two star crossed lovers in the book because of how amazingly the other issues are tackled and prodded with a fine toothed comb. Nevertheless, the love showcased between the two main characters is a love that is freeing and you can’t help but fall in love with the two protagonists regardless of what they have done to each other. The characters sit so well within themselves they almost seem to leap out of the page at you. She does not mince her words when it comes to her characters life experiences and this is what will hit home when you read it. Her descriptions of their love makes you want to be in love and feel that feeling that she describes so eloquently in words. Even with the two characters getting into flings, relationships and situationships, Adichie manages to tell stories within stories without losing you. The book truly manages to be both entertaining and informative without being overwhelming.
“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.
It’s a book that cannot be called one thing because it is so many things all at once: Race, Gender, Class , Identity, Love, Education, Family, Immigration are all tackled with such lucidity and fluidity it sounds poetic.
“Alexa and the other guests, and perhaps even Georgina, all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness. They would not understand why people like him who were raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things, so as to leave, none of them starving, or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for choice and certainty.”
She also touches on Africa and portrays us for who we really are. How power struggles and corruption are the crippling blocks of an exotic and rich continent. A lot of writers have touched on this difficult topic to address but none does it better and with such humor, thoughtfulness and exuberance as Chimamanda.
What did you think about the book if you have read it?
If not, what are you waiting for! This book packs a punch and Adichie mastery is like gold; every word she touches shimmers with confidence, honesty, freshness, passion and authenticity. A perfect read in my opinion.