Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Aisha and Halima told her what they wanted—General Tso’s Chicken Very Spicy, Chicken Wings, Orange Chicken—with the quick ease of people saying what they said every day.
You need to know more about Nigeria. It is the seventh most populous country in the world (after China, India, the USA, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan) and is becoming a middle-income country (wealth per capita a little ahead of Moldova, a little behind Armenia). It has the largest population and the largest economy in Africa, the 20th largest GDP in the world (just behind Australia, just ahead of Thailand). One in six Africans is Nigerian, and soon it will be one in five.

I went to Nigeria for 48 hours in July, and a couple of colleagues strongly recommended this book to me as a pathway to understanding the country. It was a good recommendation on their part. There are three major themes to the book: exile, race and hair. As an expatriate migrant myself, I have thought a lot about exile and distance from the country where you grew up, and the sense of betrayal at leaving it behind. Adichie's protagonist Ifemelu eventually returns home voluntarily from the USA; her lost love Odinze is humiliatingly deported from the UK; and both find that while you can never completely leave, you can never completely go back either.

The book is sharpest in contrasting American (and to a lesser extent British) attitudes to race with the experience of people who have grown up in societies where it simply isn't an issue because there are no (or hardly any) white people. Ifemelu achieves (slightly anonymous) fame as a blogger on race, with the rise of Obama as political backdrop to her years in America. She shocks her black friends as well as her white friends and colleagues in a very good way. She shocks me as well.

As for the hair question: I had no idea. Really.

Excellent book. Go and get it.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC)
GOD I loved this book. That scene where Obinze is being deported is one that has really stayed with me, and made me think - I am (as you know) a white person who has been deported from two separate countries, but that by no means implies that I share the immigration-related anxiety that non-white people experience.
Oct. 6th, 2015 04:42 pm (UTC)
While I haven't read the book, this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Hair) may help explain the hair thing.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

August 2022



Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by yoksel