What, no rambling preface?
Not today! Today all you need to know is that this book is fantastic. It’s insightful and funny and socially perceptive in a way that Jane Austen would be if Jane Austen had to grapple with race and identity in addition to class. I was inspired to read Americanah after watching Adichie’s TED talk about the danger of a single story, and it did indeed defy my expectations about what a Nigerian immigrant love story would be. For one thing, it’s more contemporary and familiarly middle-class than I expected–the characters Google each other, overanalyze email pauses, run profitable blogs, and attend bougie dinner parties where the guests engage in pretentious conversation and eat organic food. For another, it’s not painfully romantic. We care about Ifemelu and Obinze as if they were real friends and not star-crossed lovers: We root for them to end up together, but if they move on and find happiness in their careers, families, or other relationships, that’s great, too. Their experiences immigrating illegally to the UK (Obinze) and legally to the US (Ifemelu) are plenty interesting on their own, and witnessing how these contexts shape their stories and their perceptions of race and identity is more satisfying and edifying than any marriage plot could be.
Overall recommendation: So good I immediately downloaded Adichie’s previous novel, Half a Yellow Sun. I love her voice and I can’t wait to dig in.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars (my alternative rating unit was Americanah‘s ever-present Blackberry, which I just can’t endorse)
Books read: 5 out of 50 (2 books behind schedule, according to Goodreads)