Book Review – Americanah

Americanah by Chimamande Ngoze Adichie

Published: May 14th 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf

Genre: Fiction, cultural – Africa (Nigeria)

Pages: 477

I first learned who Adichie was through her TED “The danger of a single story” and I was inspired! I felt so many things during that talk; shame, agreement, sadness and hope. I was ashamed that I hadn’t seen the danger of a single story before. I understood the urgency of what she was saying and I agreed to all of it. I was a little sad that I couldn’t put these feelings into those words or thoughts as I was growing up with stories that were nothing like mine. And I felt hopeful that it was not too late and that I could go and explore more world literature. (And wow, what a year it’s been!) I’ve learned so much along the way. I’ve traveled far and near through the pages of books and then I decided to read the author who brought me here to this journey. 

I don’t know where to start. I read her book “we should all be feminists” and I loved it. It’s a conversation piece. I could discuss the contents of that book for days! Then there was Americanah. I couldn’t even get through half. This book is angry. And anger has a hard time showing anyone a real perspective. It’s hard to see through the veils of red to find a real story to connect to. No matter how much I wanted to. I don’t know where to begin to describe it because the characters drowned in rants. I know many people loved this book, so I’m in the minority here. I’ll leave you with the most liked quote on goodreads from this book, and maybe you’ll see some of the anger that blinded me to the story. 

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for us to even be a couple blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway? But we don’t say any of this stuff. We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice liberal dinners like this, we say that race doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable. It’s true. I speak from experience.”  

I can’t even read this without my blood pressure going up. I can feel the frustration in every single word and sentence and it is with that same reason I find that Adichie is a brilliant writer. She’s able to make you feel so intensely through the pages. Unfortunately for me, it was too intense for me in this book and I lost the story completely. I might want to try one of her other books in the future, cause I just know I’m missing out on something awesome here and I’m having a bit of FOMO. Until next time Adichie.

“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.”