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Americanah : a novel
2013
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Ifemelu (Female), Writer, Nigerian, American, Fell in love with Obinze in secondary school; left her country to study in America; started a blog about race in America; returned to Nigeria
Obinze (Male), Nigerian, Wealthy, Fell in love with Ifemelu in secondary school; son of a professor; had hoped to join Ifemelu in America but post-911 America won't let him in; earned his wealth in London and moved back to Nigeria
Genre
Fiction
Sociological
Multicultural
Love story
Topics
Love
Africa
Racism
Race relations
Reunited lovers
Rekindled love
Blogs
Immigrants
American culture
Class conflict
Identity
Self-discovery
First loves
African women
Setting
Nigeria - Africa
New Jersey - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
London, England - Europe
England - Europe
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Adichie's (The Thing Around Your Neck) remarkable novel is partly an immigrant experience narrative, partly pointed social commentary, and partly a love story. Ifemelu and Obinze fell in love as teenagers in 1990s Lagos, Nigeria, when the country was under military dictatorship. Ifemelu immigrates to the United States, while Obinze gets a tourist visa to England but cannot attain permanent status and is discovered and deported. Meanwhile, Ifemelu completes college in Philadelphia and writes an extremely successful blog called "Raceteenth; or Various Observations About American Blacks by a Non-American Black." Back home, Obinze becomes part of the upper middle class in oil-rich Nigeria, with a wife, a child, and a big house. After 15 years in the States, Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, where the couple reunite and must determine if their passion has endured the years of separation. Adjoa Andoh's narration is superb. Every character is clearly and distinctly voiced. The African-accented English is crystal clear. The American characters-Andoh's interpretation of Ifemelu's observations-are deliciously caricatured. VERDICT This may well be the best narration of the year. -["Witty, wry, and observant, Adichie is a marvelous storyteller who writes passionately about the difficulty of assimilation and the love that binds a man, a woman, and their homeland," read the starred review of the Knopf hc, LJ 5/1/13.]-Nann Blaine Hilyard, formerly with Zion-Benton P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Adichie burst onto the literary scene in 2006 with Half of a Yellow Sun, her searing depiction of the civil war in Nigeria. Her equally compelling and important new novel follows the lives of that country's postwar generation as they suffer endemic corruption and poverty under a military dictatorship. An unflinching but compassionate observer, Adichie writes a vibrant tale about love, betrayal, and destiny; about racism; and about a society in which honesty is extinct and cynicism is the national philosophy. She broadens her canvas to include both America and England, where she illuminates the precarious tightrope existence of culturally and racially displaced immigrants. The friendship of Ifemelu and Obinze begins in secondary school in Lagos and blossoms into love. When Ifemelu earns a scholarship to an American college, Obinze intends to join her after his university graduation, but he's denied a U.S. visa. He manages to get to London where his plight is typical of illegal immigrants there: he uses another man's ID so he can find menial, off-the-grid work, with the attendant loss of dignity and self-respect. The final blow comes when he's arrested and deported home. Ifemelu, meanwhile, faces the same humiliations, indignities, and privations-first in New York, then in Philadelphia. There, attending college, she's unable to find a job and descends to a degrading sexual act in order to pay her rent. Later she becomes a babysitter for a wealthy white family and begins writing a provocative blog on being black in America that bristles with sharp, incisive observations about racism. Ifemelu writes that the painful, expensive process of "relaxing" kinky African hair to conform to cultural expectations brings black women dangerously close to self-hatred. In time the blog earns Ifemelu fame and a fellowship to Princeton, where she has love affairs with a wealthy white man and, later, an African-American Yale professor. Her decision to return home to Nigeria (where she risks being designated as an affected "Americanah") is the turning point of the novel's touching love story and an illuminating portrait of a country still in political turmoil. Announced first printing of 60,000. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (May 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p> One of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year </p> <p>From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.<br> <br> As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze--the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor--had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.<br> <br> Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion--for their homeland and for each other--they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.<br> Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today's globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's most powerful and astonishing novel yet.</p>
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