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Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Epic in scope and astutely narrated, Adichie's unabashedly frank novel follows Ifemelu as she moves from Nigeria to the U.S. and then back again. This is a book about race, about loneliness, about a love that straddles continents. And it's an absolute treat to read.
Adichie's ability to write with compassionate, brilliant prose about topics such as civil war, political strife, immigration issues, race, cultural differences, and love has earned her well-deserved critical acclaim and many awards, including a MacArthur "Genius Grant" in 2008. Adichie's most recent novel, Americanah, parallels some of her own experience as a Nigerian coming to America for the first time to attend college. Alternating between the present and past, Ifemelu tries to adjust to her new temporary home, learning what it really means to be black in America. Although now "settled" and with a successful career, Ifemelu longs to return to Nigeria and leave everything behind, including shutting down a popular blog about her notable American observations. A poignant, funny, sometimes scathing look at the reality of being a new immigrant in the United States — especially from an African perspective — Americanah is an unforgettable work of literature not to be missed.
Synopses & Reviews
From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.
As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu — beautiful, self-assured — departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze — the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor — 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.
Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion — for their homeland and for each other — they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.
Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.
“What’s as American as the invention of race? Self-invention. So we are reminded by Adichie’s engaging third novel....Adichie is uniquely positioned to compare racial hierarchies in the United States to social striving in her native Nigeria. She does so in this new work with a ruthless honesty about the ugly and beautiful sides of both nations. Americanah is social satire masquerading as romantic comedy....Beyond race, the book is about the immigrant’s quest: self-invention, which is the American subject. Americanah is unique among the booming canon of immigrant literature of the last generation (including writers Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gary Shteyngart, Chang-rae Lee, Dinaw Mengestu and Susan Choi). Its ultimate concern isn’t the challenge of becoming American or the hyphenation that requires, but the challenge of going back home....Affecting.” The Washington Post
“Adichie’s brave, sprawling novel tackles the U.S. race complex with a directness and brio no U.S. writer of any color would risk....There’s no question on this or any novel’s resolving [our] race sickness. If it’s so hard to say or do the right thing, what is to be done? [But] Americanah brings a cleansing frankness to a scab on the face of the Republic.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“Big, moving, deeply provocative....A tiny pinprick in the giant balloon of hot air that has swollen around the subject of race in post-civil-rights-era America. Adichie’s finely observed new book, which combines perfectly calibrated social satire and heartfelt emotion, stands with Invisible Man and The Bluest Eye as a defining work about the experience of being black in America. More than race, Americanah is about all the ways people form their identities: what we put on and what we take off, the things we accumulate and those we discard along the way." Bookforum
“Adichie’s new novel is part love story, part social critique, and one of the best you’ll read this year. These characters are richly drawn, as are even those who make fleeting appearances, from the ladies at Ifemelu’s braid shop to Obinze’s boss in England....Adichie digs in deeply, finding a way to make them fresh.” Los Angeles Times
“Epic....A near-flawless novel — one whose language beautifully captures the surreal experience of an African becoming an American....Americanah is both intellectually expansive and urgently intimate, a story about the crushing experience of finding your way in a new land — and the physical and emotional lengths one goes to to feel whole again. Ifemelu — smart, pretty, brutally honest, often hilariously so — will steal your heart.” The Seattle Times
“A thrilling and risky piece of writing that takes on taboos, shatters pieties, and combines forthright prose, subversive humor, and a ripping good story....Americanah feels ruthlessly of this moment....[It] homes in on and complicates the single story of the immigrant.” Tin House
“Adichie is an extraordinarily self-aware thinker and writer....Americanah [is] a deep-seated discussion of race [that is] also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience. Trenchant and hugely empathetic, both worldly and geographically precise, [it] holds the realities of our times fearlessly before us, [and] never feels false.” The New York Times Book Review
“In Americanah, Adichie is to blackness what Philip Roth is to Jewishness: its most obsessive taxonomist, its staunchest defender, and its fiercest critic. Stories of immigrants adjusting to the United States are as central to American literature as they are to the American Dream. But Americanah [is] a new kind of migration story: a Great Global Novel.” New York Magazine
“Scintillating, funny, and heartfelt....Among its many strengths, Americanah is superlative at making clear just how isolating it can be to live far away from home....Affecting.” The Boston Globe
"Americanah is an exhilarating, mind-expanding pleasure of a read. It is a brilliant treatise on race, class and globalization, and also a deep, clear-eyed story about love — and how it can both demand and make possible the struggle to become our most authentic selves.” San Francisco Chronicle
“MacArthur fellow Adichie is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love — and what it takes to become a ‘full human being.’” Booklist (starred review)
“Elegantly written, emotionally believable....A sensitive portrayal of distant love, broken affinities and culture clash....A fine, adult love story with locations both exotic and familiar.” Kirkus Reviews
“Compelling and important....An unflinching but compassionate observer, Adichie writes a vibrant tale about love, betrayal, and destiny; about racism; and about a society in which honest is extinct and cynicism is the national philosophy. She broadens her canvas to include both America and England, where she illuminates the precarious tightrope existence of culturally and racially displaced immigrants....[A] touching love story and an illuminating portrait of a country still in political turmoil.” Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
“Witty, wry, and observant, Adichie is a marvelous storyteller who writes passionately about the difficulty of assimilation and the love that binds a man, a woman, and their homeland. Her work should be read by anyone clutching at the belief that we’re living in a post-racial United States.” Library Journal (starred review)
One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year and an NBCC Award Finalist
An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Seattle Times Best Book, an Entertainment Weekly Top Fiction Book, a Newsday Top 10 Book, and a Goodreads Best of the Year pick.
A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion — for each other and for their homeland.
About the Author
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and, most recently, the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
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