2021 & 2022 Reading Challenge discussion

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ARCHIVE 2016 > Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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message 1: by ZaraS (new)

ZaraS  *book reviewer | 2365 comments Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie This thread is to discuss Chimamanda Ngozi 's book, Americanah.


***Please remember to mark spoilers.***

Participants:
Kirby, Gabriella, Lisa, Janine, Aurora


message 2: by ZaraS (new)

ZaraS  *book reviewer | 2365 comments Suggested break down of reading so that you can check in and let us know how you're going. The following breakdown is purely a suggestion and is therefore not set in stone.

Rather than putting dates for each section I've done it so that it takes into account that not everybody will necessarily have the book at the same time.


Week 1: 119.25 pages
Week 2: 119.25 pages
Week 3: 119.25 pages
Week 4: 119.25 pages



message 3: by Blagica , Cheerleader! (new)

Blagica  | 11916 comments this was one of my favorite group reads enjoy.


message 4: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments Thanks Blagica, I'm excited to read this :) For anyone on kindle, or with a different edition, I've had a look at the nearest chapters for each 'section':

Week 1: --> p121, Chapters 1-11.
Week 2: --> p235, Chapters 12-23.
Week 3: --> p362, Chapters 24-40.
Week 4: --> end, Chapters 41-55.

It depends how into the book I am as to whether I'll stick to the sections, but I thought I'd put the chapters in in case it'd help anyone who wants to plan their reading.


message 5: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments This book was one of my favorite group reads as well. I look forward to seeing your discussion! :)


Lisa (LiteraryLatinax) (literarylatinax) | 0 comments I've been behind due to sickness and work, glad to find this schedule. Been wanting to read this one for a while, really looking forward to this group.


message 7: by Gabriella (new)

Gabriella | 400 comments Finally! I've been meaning to read this for years.


message 8: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 143 comments I look forward to starting this! It's been on my shelf for so long.


message 9: by Kara, TBR Twins (new)

Kara (karaayako) | 3965 comments This is 100% one of my favorite books. I hope you all enjoy it!


message 10: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments I read the first two chapters this morning and I'm just popping in to say that I think I'm really going to like Ifemelu as a protagonist. I love her wit :)

I also know next to nothing about Nigeria so this is making me curious and I've already looked up a few things. Talking of which - a fair number of the sentences (usually speech I think) have ended in 'o'. Does anyone know anything about that? Not sure if it's a character thing or a cultural thing.


message 11: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 143 comments Janine wrote: "I read the first two chapters this morning and I'm just popping in to say that I think I'm really going to like Ifemelu as a protagonist. I love her wit :)

I also know next to nothing about Nigeri..."


I just sat down to read this; I'm only 25 pages in but I already have a good feeling about it!

I'm pretty sure that's just Nigerian slang, I'm not an expert on Nigerian culture by any means, but when I was there I heard it all the time :)


message 12: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments Yeah, it's basically just slang (and I think part of Pidgin English as well) to add emphasis. It also read to me as kind of like "..., yeah?" I remember having a hard time looking for a definition online when I read it.

Aurora, when were you in Nigeria?


message 13: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 143 comments I've been twice. Once with my family when I was I a child and again in 2010. I've never read any Nigerian literature before, I'm really excited to learn more about the culture :)


message 14: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments That's awesome! I'll be interested to hear your perspective as you read. :)


message 15: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 143 comments I actually tried reading this when I came out; but I couldn't get into it then. I'm enjoying it so much more this time. I'm glad this buddy read motivated me to give it another chance.


message 16: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) Somehow my name didn't make it onto the list, but I'd like to participate. I read the book in February and thought it was really good, but wished I had someone to discuss it with -- and now I do! I don't want to say more here because I don't want to spoil anything for people just starting to read it.


message 17: by Gabriella (new)

Gabriella | 400 comments I've read only the first chapter because my book is too heavy. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but it seems interesting enough of keep going.


message 18: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments Cheri - welcome! You can always pose a question or a comment under a spoiler, just put something like 'don't read until chapter X:' or whatever and then hide it with spoiler tags. That way whoever gets to it can have a look!

Gabriella - do you mean physically heavy? I know mine is a paperback but still only 477 pages and the font is tiny!


I finished Chapter 4 last night, and although I'm enjoying the switch to Ifemelu's younger years and how her and Obinze met, I'm also itching to go back to 'present day' and find out what happens when (or if as she could still change her mind, though I think it'll happen) Ifemelu goes back to Nigeria.

I found the commentary on how her mother changed with each change of church really interesting. It's amazing how much influence religion can have on a person's character, all the expectations and 'right way' to do things which then changed with the next vision or switch of church!

I've had a lot more thoughts (it's definitely a slowish read and think on it during the evening kind of book for more) but I'll leave it there for now. I'm sure I'll have more once I've read further over the weekend. Hope you're all enjoying it!


Lisa (LiteraryLatinax) (literarylatinax) | 0 comments I'm a little behind but I read the first 2 chapters last night and was easily consumed, although right now I'm enjoying the present day more. Definitely am looking forward to reading more this weekend and seeing where this goes.

I kept nodding my head during Chapter 1 when she was making comparisons between Nigeria and the US in particular how a friend told her she can't say the word "fat" because it upsets people, whereas in Nigeria it wasn't a necessarily bad thing.


message 20: by Gabriella (new)

Gabriella | 400 comments Janine - yes, physically heavy. The font is good enough to read, but as I'm reading it in Brazilian Portuguese, it's this edition: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
IDK how to explain how we do books here. It has the quality of a hardcover edition, but with a cover kinda like the one in paperback, but better.
So I can't hold it for long 'cause it weights almost 1kg (around 2 pounds). I guess I'll have to read it on Kindle.


message 21: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments I'm up to Chapter 17 currently and have to say I've been really loving the last few chapters. Seeing America through the eyes of Ifemelu has been fascinating, especially all the little details - like the connotations associated with the word 'fat' as you said Lisa, and 'thin' vs. 'slim'. The ideals of beauty, of political correctness with regards to 'noticing' someone's race, how some people see Africa as one homogeneous place etc.

A couple of scenes I really liked, both in Chapter 14: (spoilered, but just being overly cautious really, no big plot reveals!)

(view spoiler)

How's everyone getting on with it?


message 22: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 5832 comments Regarding your spoiler text:
(view spoiler)


message 23: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) One thing I really liked about this book was seeing things from a very different perspective. I especially liked reading about Nigeria from a Nigerian perspective rather than from the point of view of an American who had simply visited there.

Related to the comment Janine made about Chapter 14: (view spoiler)


message 24: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments Cassandra - I think you're right about it making Nigeria very distinct. This has definitely reminded me how important it is to diversify what I'm reading, as even in fiction you can learn so much and get a wonderful snapshot into life in another place or experiences different to your own. I've been keeping track of the countries authors I read are from this year and I think I may have to join the Around the World challenge a bit late as some encouragement to read outside the UK and US some more!

In response to Cheri:
(view spoiler)


message 25: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments I'm now at chapter 23. Working my way through this quite slowly as I've got a fair few books on the go which is unusual for me!

I just had to say one thing re:Curt, end of chapter 22:

(view spoiler)


message 26: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) Janine wrote: "I'm now at chapter 23. Working my way through this quite slowly as I've got a fair few books on the go which is unusual for me!

I just had to say one thing re:Curt, end of chapter 22:

"I don't wa..."


Janine, I agree with you about Curt -- (view spoiler)


message 27: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) Hi, everyone. In case you haven't heard of it, I wanted to let you know about the Slate Audio Book Club podcast. I just listened to their discussion of Americanah and thought it was really great! Here's a link: http://www.slate.com/articles/podcast...
They only do one book a month and I've really enjoyed those I've listened to.


message 28: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments I forgot to post here any further, but I did finish Americanah a couple of weeks ago, and overall I really enjoyed it. Gave it four stars and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read that had me thinking about it (and some of the topics it brought up) when I wasn't reading it! I wrote a short review here if anyone's interested.

How did everyone else get along?

Cheri - Thanks for the link, I've bookmarked it and might give it a listen when I've got some spare time. I also feel like I might've missed something! Was there something specific you wanted to talk about re:Wambui?


message 29: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) Janine wrote: "I forgot to post here any further, but I did finish Americanah a couple of weeks ago, and overall I really enjoyed it. Gave it four stars and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read that had me thinking..."

I really liked Americanah and gave it 4 stars also. It was enlightening and I was drawn into Ifemelu's story. But there were a number of things about the book that bothered me structurally, and Wambui's role was one of them. When Ifemelu first sees her (and Wambui has quite a presence!), the author says that at that time Ifemelu couldn't know that Wambui would become one of her closest friends. I was glad to read that because I wanted to learn more about Wambui -- but she's mentioned only once more, in passing. That struck me as odd; why mention how important she'd be to Ifemelu, and then not bring her into the story? I felt like a number of things in the book just got dropped -- for example, Morgan, who goes on that trip with Ifemelu and her boyfriend. Why did it matter in the story that she was there, and what becomes of her and her growing relationship with Ifemelu? Anyhow, I really thought it was a terrific book, I just wish the story had been tighter. Maybe the book didn't need to be quite as long as it was!


Lisa (LiteraryLatinax) (literarylatinax) | 0 comments I also finished this a few weeks ago and I'm between a 3.5 & 4. I liked the writing, the comparisons between Nigeria and the US. The topics of racism, hair, work, education, survival, choices, the struggle to fit in and love definitely kept me interested.

The whole relationship aspect of the story really bothered me. As time went on I started to dislike Ifemelu. She was a bit snobbish and many times when she was the one who created issues in a relationships she took no responsibility. Even her attitude towards Obinze in the end disappointed me (and yes it takes two to tangle) but for a strong, determined woman she was a bit selfish and it made me wonder how their relationship could survive.


message 31: by Janine (new)

Janine | 1045 comments Oh Cheri, that makes sense! I thought I'd missed a key moment with Wambui that you wanted to discuss but couldn't remember anything! She definitely didn't appear much at all later. There were a lot of secondary/tertiary characters that were only in passing, or seemingly only important in a particular phase of Ifemelu's life.

I think some of those 'dropped moments' were to do with the structure of the book. The timeline jumped around so much, and we skipped months/years at a time, so we saw a lot of Ifemelu's first few months in the US and her time with Curt/Blaine, but much of the university time was skipped I think.

Lisa - it's interesting you say you started to dislike Ifemelu. I absolutely adored her at the beginning, thought she was a great protagonist and whilst I still liked her at the end, I can certainly understand why you weren't a fan. She has her flaws, and they're most prevalent at the end of the book - her snobbery and avoidance of blame particularly! Both Obinze and Ifemelu's attitudes were a bit disappointing at the end, but I think maybe I just wanted too much of a convenient happy ending without anyone getting hurt.


Lisa (LiteraryLatinax) (literarylatinax) | 0 comments Janine wrote: "Oh Cheri, that makes sense! I thought I'd missed a key moment with Wambui that you wanted to discuss but couldn't remember anything! She definitely didn't appear much at all later. There were a lot..."

I really did like her at first and even overlooked some things but I think I was bothered with her attitude towards Obinze towards the end in regards to his wife and really felt like she was wrong and selfish. Also, the end left me wanting more.


message 33: by Cheri (new)

Cheri (jovali2) Lisa (Likenbooks) wrote: "I also finished this a few weeks ago and I'm between a 3.5 & 4. I liked the writing, the comparisons between Nigeria and the US. The topics of racism, hair, work, education, survival, choices, the ..."

I didn't always find Ifemelu likable, but she was always interesting and, usually, she seemed very real. The thing about her that bothered me most was her treatment of Obinze, as you mention. For her to just cut him off altogether seemed so unfair, and their getting together at the end seemed contrived and unearned. What I found most interesting about her was her desire to return to Nigeria -- not out of simple homesickness, but out of a sense of belonging and wanting to return to a place with none of the issues she had to deal with in the U.S.


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