AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve always thought of myself as an avid reader, but during my very busy career years, time was scarce for one of my greatest personal pleasures. Once I “retired” in 2006, I gained time, but soon was pursuing my own literary project. I spent five years continuing my research on Mary Shelley and FRANKENSTEIN, studying the craft of fiction, and writing sometimes four hours a day.

Now that my MY LIFE WITH SHELLEY is a completed manuscript, I’m happily gobbling up novels, reading classics I never managed to get to, and immersing myself in contemporary fiction.

AMERICANAH, by celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a sumptuous read. In the story, circumstances bring Ifemelu from Nigeria to the US as a young woman, separating her from Obinze, her first love. Her struggles in America and her efforts to claim her own identity lead her to cut off communication with Obinze for many years. Obinze’s own struggles (perhaps more severe)┬áin a hard hearted London are all the more difficult without Ifemelu’s empathy.

I knew practically nothing about Nigeria (ex., one in every five Africans is a Nigerian) before I went on protagonists Ifemelu’s and Obinze’s journeys. Adiche’s prose is an absolute joy to read. Her ability to move us back and forth in the timeline of the story amazed me. As the novel opens, Ifemelu is traveling from Princeton to Trenton, NJ, in order to have her hair braided in the proper African way for her return to Nigeria. From the hair salon Adiche transported me far away both geographically and chronologically (and back) but never once lost me.

I’m on to another book (MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION by Otessa Moshfegh), but I highly recommend Adiche’s delightful and subtly educational novel. You’ll be turning pages rapidly as you savor her prose.

 

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