Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The one complaint I have about this book is that the paper isn’t cut straight across. It’s that sort of roughly ruffled edge that makes it hard to quickly flip the pages.

That’s it. That’s the only fault I can find with this book.

Title – Americanah

Author – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Page count – 477 (A relatively hefty read, but the pace never drags)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing)

There’s a reason this book has been recommended to me by so many people. As I said in my review of Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck, she has a way of using words to engage all your senses and transport the reader into the moment of the story. And Americanah is no exception.

This book is about the immigrant experience, specifically from Nigeria. “Americanah” is the word Nigerians use to describe people who immigrated to the United States but have returned to Nigeria (bringing along some American habits they’ve picked up). The story follows Ifemelu as she grows up in Nigeria, comes to the United States as an adult for work and further schooling, and returns to Nigeria after almost two decades. We see her navigate relationships with friends, family, and lovers (the most notable is a former classmate named Obinze) as she shrewdly observes American cultural mannerisms. The story does do some switching between Ifemelu’s narration and that of Obinze, but I would still consider Ifemelu the main character.

Here’s an example of the sensory descriptions Adichie does so well:

“Dust whirls would start in the far distance, very pretty to look at as long as they were far away, and swirl until they coated everything brown. Even eyelashes. Everywhere, moisture would be greedily sucked up; the wood laminate on tables would peel off and curl…The church bazaars would leave air redolent, smoky from mass cooking. Some nights, the heat lay thick like a towel.” (p. 94)

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