Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda is yet to disappoint me — not that I am looking out for her to disappoint. So far, she is the best female African writer I have ever read.

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Yet even as I type that last sentence, I can’t help but feel Ifemelu looking at me and shaking her head disapprovingly. Did I have to put those qualifiers, “African”, “female”? Couldn’t I just say Chimamanda is a good writer, period?

Ifemelu, the main character, is a Nigerian girl who flies to the US immediately after her undergrad. It is in America that she realizes she is black, and that to be black in America means to be concerned about race – whether you’re a racist or not. She copes with life in America in different ways.

You will have to read the book to see how far she was willing to go because of financial desperation.

Being a person who cannot keep her opinions to herself, Ifemelu copes with life in America by venting on her blog – a race blog. The posts are quite insightful. She learns a lot about people and race and in the process, learns things about herself that she didn’t even know existed.

Then there’s Obinze, the love of Ifemelu’s life. Their relationship is what keeps the reader hooked to the book. One keeps turning the page to see if this will be another “happily ever after” tale of love or not.

There’s so much to say about the book.

But what stood out most was the author’s depth of insight. Chimamanda has an uncanny ability to see into people’s personalities and draw profound life lessons. Her characters are deep, not consciously deep, but they are deep subjects of analysis.

I love the way Chimamanda doesn’t fear the complexity of human beings. She faces it head on and presents it as it is in the book.

The author doesn’t present simplistic people, she makes characters complex and confused and double-minded and all sorts of unpredictable. In other words, her characters are human.

This is a great story, one that I will definitely re-read in the future. Grab a copy when you can, it will be worth your while.

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