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Americanah

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  213,203 ratings  ·  19,671 reviews
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a d ...more
Hardcover, 477 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published May 13th 2013)
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Nancy Vegas Laura, you know you don't really want an answer to your very rude question. As an immigrant and now citizen of this country I can tell you with…moreLaura, you know you don't really want an answer to your very rude question. As an immigrant and now citizen of this country I can tell you with certainty- I did not want to immigrate here. I did so because of Colonization and Western economic policy that was enforced in Latin America which ruined our political system. Immigration is not a matter of the 'American Dream' as the media has told you, it's a matter of economic displacement. Why don't you go back to Europe?(less)

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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
UPDATE: Now with irritating author interview! See end of review.

Those of you who know me know I don’t really have favorite authors: I have favorite books, occasionally favorite series. So you won’t be surprised that after I thought Half of a Yellow Sun was amazing and Purple Hibiscus and The Thing Around Your Neck fairly good, I’m giving 2 stars (edit: 1 star) to Adichie’s latest. Typical. But really, yikes! This isn't even a novel: it's a 477-page opinion essay with some characters thrown in.

...more
Somi
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
In Nigeria, we are brought up on foreign movies, sitcoms and TV shows, foreign books and foreign news. We know how English should be spoken, and many of us who bother to read a lot are very familiar with the colloquialisms of the west.

This is perhaps why we do not recognize how much we miss our own particularly Nigerian way of expression in the literature we read. It is perhaps why, when we read a phrase that is essentially Nigerian, in a novel like Americanah... “Tina-Tina, how now?
...more
Rowena
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in 2013. "Americanah" is a book of great impact and importance. This is the one book by an African writer that has spoken to me more than any other.

This is a book about Africa and the African diasporic experience in the USA and England, a backdrop for the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze, teenagers attending a Nigerian university who have to leave the country because of the university strikes in Nigeria. Ifemelu moves to the States, where she atte
...more
Roxane
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
There's a lot going on here. This book is a beautiful mess. Adichie takes on race, immigration and emigration, the politics of natural hair, interracial relationships, what it means to leave home, and what it means to return, all wrapped up in a love story. The book is, at points, indulgent, just on and on the writing goes, the writer showing off her admittedly impressive way with words. Stronger editing would have done wonders for this book. But when this book is good, it is absolutely brillian ...more
Brina
A few weeks ago I read The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short story collection, and was immediately struck with her attention to detail in stories as short as six pages long. Desiring more of her captivating prose, I chose Americanah, her intricate discussion on race in three countries and continents. Taking place in Nigeria, the United States, and England, Americanah can be viewed by many as a novel that is one of the premier looks on race over the last five years.

Ifemelu
...more
Kaykay Obi
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Americanah is a love story, not the kind of love stories I grew up reading, those with really beautiful women and handsome tall guys. In fact, the lovers in this one aren’t too attractive, but their love is. Their love is beautiful, but then it is tried, beaten, stretched, yet it endures and gets stronger.

Okay, love aside. Americanah deals on the subject of race and hair. You may wonder how hair could be an issue, but it is in this book. The book begins in a hairdresser shop, where I
...more
karen
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is basically what was going through my head for most of the book: “AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”

and then, more quietly in the background, under the shrieking:

“why haven’t i read this before now?”

because i was an early-adopter of adichie - i read Purple Hibiscus back when it was her only novel, and i pounced on Half of a Yellow Sun as soon as it was published and it immediately rose to the very top of my heart-pile of ‘favorite books ever.’

and then this came out and i just… dallied. i bought it the week it came out, but it’s just been hanging out on my shelves for year
...more
Julie Christine
"What is it with you Americans and race?" my friend Fatima asked me one day over lunch. We were in her country, France, both students at a university tucked in a shadow of an Alpine peak. "Everyone always wanted to know where I was from. I'd tell them France and they'd say, no, where are you from? It made no sense. I was born in France. I'm French." Fatima, with her brown sugar skin and currant-black eyes, then turned to her boyfriend Karim and Arabic poured from her in a river of throaty consonants and c ...more
Debbie
Warning: I love being part of the crowd, and the crowd is mostly all gushy about this book. But seriously, I wish I had walked away from it. I really wanted to like it, I really did.

This was the longest book of my life!!! 610 (Kindle) pages that felt like 1,000. I would be reading along and thinking, oh, I’m a little bored, let’s see how far I’ve gotten….and I’d look down at the bottom of my Kindle page and see that the progress bar hadn’t moved an iota!!! 17 percent, really? I’ve read al
...more
Maxwell
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, i-own-it, favorites
Everyone should read this book.

Adichie has really hit her stride in this one. After having read and adored her previous works, I knew I would love this one, and it didn't disappoint. It is by far her best work, and you can see the progression of her writing skill in Americanah.

Characters are what Adichie does best. Her books become progressively less plot-driven, but her ability to engage the reader with flawed, true characters is where she excels. Ifemelu is brazen and perhaps, to som
...more
Dincy
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm only about halfway through this book but I am enthralled. I was afraid that I was over-eager and could only be disappointed, that I had set the bar too high, that I should remember that Adichie is only human, after all. But my fears were misplaced. ''Chimmy'' is back as strong as ever. I am mildly amused at how she's promoted the book in her interviews as being "about hair". This book is about race, and culture. (Admittedly, that's what it says in the blurb.) Anyway, so far, it is brilliantl ...more
Mena
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. I really wanted to be here for this novel, but damn: the two main characters - especially Ifemelu - were barely likeable after her move to America, all the other characters (especially the Americans and "nouveau riche" Nigerians) were very one-dimensional, the adjective use was next level and I felt like I was being lectured half the damn time. Adichie's prose is beautiful and she knows how to evoke emotion, but her politics - at least on the topic of race and class - feel very staid: I di ...more
Melanie
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"But beyond race, the book is about the immigrant’s quest: self-invention, which is the American subject. “Americanah” is unique among the booming canon of immigrant literature of the last generation (including writers Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gary Shteyngart, Chang-rae Lee, Dinaw Mengestu and Susan Choi). Its ultimate concern isn’t the challenge of becoming American or the hyphenation that requires, but the challenge of going back home."
Emily Raboteau in the Washington Post

I
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Sam
I've been trying to formulate exactly what I think and how I feel about Americanah, a frustrating but fascinating read. And ultimately, I think that as a novel of ideas, concepts, exploration of how we as humans of various backgrounds understand and confront identity and immigration and race in the modern day, and a spotlight on the Nigerian and African diaspora in the US and UK, Americanah has much to recommend the reader, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's intelligent observations and smart, incisive prose are by turn ...more
Nat
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

It's this opening quote that raised my intrigue by a tenfold on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah. I've read (and reviewed in praise) her previous Nonfiction works (Dear Ijeawele & We Should All Be Feminists) so I knew Adichie to be an author with a compelling way of words, but all that paled in comparison to the character building she excels at exploring in this fictional work of art.

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall iart.
AsAdichie's . ...more
Chaitra
It's my first Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book for some reason. My only experience with Nigerian literature heretofore has been Things Fall Apart which I've read multiple times and think exquisite. I had no notion of what to expect with this book, but I do know I was hoping for an idea of a modern Nigeria. I'm also always up for cultural clashes and the dynamics of race, so this was all set to be a fantastic experience.

Obviously, that didn't happen and for the most part, this book is a disappointment f
...more
Paul
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-novels
I loved this book; even though it was long and essentially a romance, but there was so much more to it. It is also about race, gender and the nature of home. As the Guardian review points out, it is an exploration of structural inequality and types of oppression, but it is wrapped in a love story.
The novel revolves around Ifemelu and Obinze and their on/off relationship over time and distance. It starts in their teenage years in Nigeria and follows them around the world; Ifemelu to the US and O
...more
Jennifer
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Adichie's novel Purple Hibiscus, but this book was a slog, for multiple reasons. I wish Adichie had written a memoir, rather than a semi-autobiographical, overly-long, meandering novel wherein we are treated to the narrator's supercilious, self-important observations about immigration, race, and class. The observations are keen and I don't disagree with their general message, but the delivery is smug and repetitive, an endless series of cocktail and dinner party scenes where the narrat ...more
Cas
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
I enjoyed this writer's previous novels and expected to like this one too, but I was disappointed. There are several reasons for this but the one that had the most impact was the sense that the writer wasn't sure what type of novel this should be. Was it a love story, a story of immigration, the story of black people in today's America - the issues all merely rolled out but never properly addressed - or was it an attempt to educate readers on the differences between the various ethnic black grou ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
"when white people say dark they mean Greek or Italian but when black people say dark they mean Grace Jones"

Weak as a love story but powerful in its social commentary. I found a lot of similarities between people of Nigeria described here and that of India- people wanting to migrate to developed countries and real estate being the only investment that attracts the rich.

" There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.”


T
...more
Perry
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like to be in America! / O.K. by me in America! / Ev'rything free in America / For a small fee in America!
Stephen Sondheim, "America," from West Side Story

“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Anais Nin. This novel reminds me of Nin's quote about a writer's ability to perceive truth, otherwise shaded by everyday familiarity. Adichie's ability in this re
...more
Carol
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio-books
The Hook - A promise to myself to get to some of those books on my TBR pile. One down, thousands to go.

The Line“How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.”

The Sinker – I loved the journey I took with the author and characters in Americanah, what I call more a story of love than one of race or color. This is not to say I didn’t think about race or color because I did. What struck me most about his is how little I know about what is referred to as Non-American/>The/>The
...more
Kinga
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adichie and I seem to share sensibilities and I often mention her as one of my favourite authors, even if I often think she lets herself off too easily. Which is another thing we seem to have in common, as I tend to let myself off too easily too. What I mean by that is that I wanted more, let’s call it, ‘epicness’. Adichie is a wonderful writer and she can churn out a great book without really trying. I want to know what would happen if she really tried.

Americanah is really Race 101 and you wou
...more
Julie Ehlers
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's nothing better than starting a new novel and getting the feeling, pretty much immediately, that you're in safe hands. Somehow, it takes only a few pages for a really good author to communicate that she knows what she's doing and you can relax and settle in. That was definitely the case with Americanah. I can be a bit apprehensive about committing to a book with 400+ pages, but here, particularly in the first three-fourths of the book, there was nothing not to like. The characters were vivid, the la ...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
Lots to chew on in "Americanah"!! I liked it!!!
*Note to my friends from last year...( 2 thumbs up for me: did I break the tie?)

To chew ... To chew ... To chew....on:
.... Immigration experiences.
.... A love story
.... Race relations....( especially American-Africans)
.... Class hierarchy in America
.... Tribalism
.... Kinky African hair
.....Nigerian born heroine
..... Philosophies, values, morals, etc.

Ifemelu began life in Nigeria which existed under military dictat
...more
Mari

Check out my review and discussion of Americana.

I started this book at the beginning of this year and put it aside after a single chapter because I wasn't convinced I would enjoy it. This is why I come back to books, because sometimes I'm wrong and sometimes it takes a second look.

I'm so glad I gave Americanah another chance because it is one of just a few 5 star books I've read this year. It is smart, funny, well written, sincere and overall something to be experienced. I want to use the word i
...more
Johann (jobis89)
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“Why did people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers, but Ifemelu departs for the United States to study as a result of Nigeria being under a military dictatorship. Obinze had hoped to join her, but is denied a visa after 9/11, and so heads to London instead, where he eventually becomes an undocumented immigrant.

What appears to be a love story on the surface is really about immigration, ethnicit
...more
Asgrl
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was so good I cried. It felt like someone finally got it. That feeling of straddling your good but humble african upbringing, realizing the benefits of coming to America but struggling to fit in because of issues you had no previous understanding of but are dumped in to sink or swim.

I was worried about reading this book because of pre-interviews I had seen which made it appear as though she was very "Marie Antoinette" like in her understanding of the plight of the average Nigerian as some
...more
Kai
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-uni, owned
do you know that feeling when you're 250 pages into a book and shit happens and you have that sudden moment of clarity and you think

description

Well, I officially do know. Americanah was not my piece of cake. And I blame the characters and the sheer length of the book. I just couldn't make myself care for them and I know it makes me sound heartless.
To be fair, I enjoyed the first 200 pages. I learned a lot through the disc
...more
B the BookAddict
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads
Put up your hand if the most you knew about Nigeria was those pesky scamming emails and catfishing fiascos. My hand is up. I'm not especially proud of that but there it is.

Americanah will teach you about the diverse people and cultures of Nigeria. No, it's not just another race book although it does discuss the issue of race. It really takes you inside modern Nigerians; how they live, what their lives are like, what expectations they have and also the choices they do not have.

Trying to write
...more
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria.

Her work has been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Boo
...more
“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.” 1105 likes
“Racism should never have happened and so you don't get a cookie for reducing it.” 726 likes
More quotes…