They say that every book you read changes you, how you think, act, speak or look at the world. I hope that is true of Americanah.
Americanah is a novel about being an African (or non-American) black in the US and England, and then the comparison of that life on return to Nigeria.
The lead female character, Ifemelu, I found very likable, in her outspoken eloquent observations about the world. The book follows her from her childhood in Nigeria, to the relationship with her high school and university boyfriend Obinze, to the dramatic change of lifestyle in moving to the USA and then returning home to Nigeria as an adult. I guess I found many things similar to my own life and interests in her, such as being a media major and finding true love at a young age.
Chimamanda Adichie has a great knack for descriptions that see through to the heart of people, for putting into words the way that the world works in ways that people would quite often prefer to ignore.
As a white New Zealander, far from the US, UK, or Africa, I know that the issues of race that Chimamanda talks about are still present in a small country on the other side of the world. She talks of the migrant life, the people in her homeland who see her as going to riches and opportunity in the US (or UK for Obinze). In the US she sees the reality of her qualified doctor Aunty who is working three jobs while raising her son and putting herself through medical school. Ifemelu experiences the poverty that comes from the discrimination that won’t let her find a job and the cultural shock of the different hierarchies, speech and mannerisms in a foreign place. Chimamanda covers everything from beauty and hair, accents, media and politics, to education and relationships in giving a picture of life as a black person in America and Nigeria.
Chimamanda’s book inspires me, not only through her topic of choice, but through her writing style and observations to hope to write in a similar way, changing the world and people’s point of views through the experience of reading her book.