Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Alfred Knopf
Release Date: 2013
Genre: Fiction (Novel)
Setting: Nigeria | USA | London
My Rating: 4.5 Stars ****
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.
This is not a review. This is a rant.
As much as I LOVED this book, I could not help but feel some type of way about the protagonist Ifemelu. The story is captivating and addresses real issues that immigrants face when they move to Western countries in search of greener pastures and the struggles they face when they come back home. Chimamanda sure knows how to keep a reader turning pages. I loved the discussions on race, of the natural hair struggle, of immigrants trying to find their footing in the US, of politics, of the differences between American Blacks and Non-American Blacks. Even the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze.
I found her narcissistic, self-absorbed, selfish, childish, self-righteous, condescending, hypocritical, annoying and (any other adjectives I can use here?). Ifemelu moves to the US to continue her Uni education due to the uncertainties brought about by the persistent lecturers’ strikes in Nigeria. She leaves her boyfriend, Obinze with a promise that their love would stand the test of time, distance etc.
This is however not the case as she cuts him off from her life. She begins dating Curt, a white American who adores her but she cheats on him for no other reason than she was ‘curious’. When she begins dating Blaine, she describes their relationship as ‘Being content in a house but always sitting at the window looking out”. She leaves Blaine when she moves back to Nigeria to disrupt Obinze’s life after 15 years of silence! Sigh! Obinze ends up leaving his wife for her.
Ifem is callous in the way she treats and relates to everybody in her life. She will throw you under the bus for her amusement, case in point; she exposes her friend Ranyinudo on her blog despite Ranyinudo being her only friend when she returns home. She is condescending to her co-workers and boss at the Magazine. In Ifem’s world, everyone is a pawn to be done with as she pleases.