“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it”
Americanah ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
One of the little thrills in my life is, as nerdy as this sounds, is to read a book without looking up anything about it. In the age of the internet where spoilers and memes rule our day to day lives, keeping this up can be hard. However, if I am successful, I am able to read a book without bias or expectation, based purely on its back and front cover and of course the print on the spine. Books are my little mystery boxes full of surprises and how beautiful they can be!
Which is why, I am beyond surprised to find, now that I have completed Americanah, that most people describe this as a love story. Yes, there are two characters involved here, who embark on a relationship, are split apart because of life and the world and eventually find their ways back to each other. However, that is not central to the book, in my opinion. The real story lies in the characters’ struggles in their time apart from each other; how they grow in two different worlds; one in America, the other in England…both far away from their native Nigeria.
I admired Adichie’s ability to make me fall in love with the characters, as flawed as they were and sometimes bordering on unlikeable; but they were real. This book brought out the universality of human nature, made people from other parts of the world from mine; tangible. As an immigrant myself, I could relate to this book and most of the characters. And hey! as a bonus; all my questions about African hair braids and Jollof rice were answered!
Why you should read it:
- A powerful social commentary on the great immigrant culture in a post-colonisation world
- For the unlikely heroine and how quickly you fall in love with her
Why you shouldn’t read it:
- For its many pages and tiny font, if that sort of thing puts you off
- The characters can be unlikeable at times, and the plot is not going to roll your socks up and down with shock.