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Americanah
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2014 Book Discussions > Americanah - General Discussion (No Spoilers) (August 2014)

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Deborah | 983 comments This is only a placeholder


message 2: by Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (last edited Jul 30, 2014 12:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I know it's just a placeholder, but I couldn't find any other spot to comment on this :)

Oh my god! I'm so lucky you guys are reading Americanah! I bought it to read with another group, but failed to do it while it was still time, and now you guys (my favorite group, actually) are reading it, and I can read it with you guys! I'm happy as hell right now :) yay! it's like a birthday present (my birthday is in August)


Deborah | 983 comments Just doin' our job Ma'am.
(Happy birthday.)


message 4: by Julia (last edited Jul 30, 2014 05:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Julia (juliastrimer) I recommend the TED talk "The danger of a single story" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs...

I also suggest reading her article from the May New Yorker, "Hiding From Our Past": http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cult... The article centers on the censorship in Nigeria of the film of her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. The book deals with the Biafra time period in Nigeria, and Adichie says this:

"The censors’ action is a knee-jerk political response, yet there is a sense in which it is not entirely unreasonable. Nigeria is on edge, with upcoming elections that will be fiercely contested, religion and ethnicity increasingly politicized, and Boko Haram committing mass murders and abductions. In a political culture already averse to openness, this might seem a particularly appropriate time for censorship.

But we cannot hide from our history. Many of Nigeria’s present problems are, arguably, consequences of an ahistorical culture. As a child, I sometimes found rusted bullets in our garden, reminders of how recent the war had been. My parents are still unable to talk in detail about certain war experiences. The past is present, and we are better off acknowledging it and, hopefully, learning from it."




message 5: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita | 103 comments What does "this is only a placeholder mean?"


Deborah | 983 comments Terry will open his own threads for discussion. But if the folder were empty it would not be visible.


message 7: by Lily (last edited Jul 30, 2014 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments I like this picture of Adichie, too:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Those braids are beautiful, not entirely a side comment given the opening pages of the story. (Click to enlarge.)


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Not just the opening pages. How non-American black women wear their hair is an important theme that runs through the book, with implications for identity, self-image and social status.


Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Casceil wrote: "Not just the opening pages. How non-American black women wear their hair is an important theme that runs through the book, with implications for identity, self-image and social status."

Also American?


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Lily, probably, but the focus of the book is on non-American.


message 11: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Casceil wrote: "Lily, probably, but the focus of the book is on non-American."

Do you really think so?

We were intrigued by her insight/comments on the American.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Purple Hibiscus is the only Adichie book I have read to date and it was excellent. I listened to her at the National Book Awards for 2013 - I think Lily provided the link under the discussion of that award - and she is fascinating to listen to. I have all her books on my TBR shelf and looking forward to this discussion.


message 13: by Lily (last edited Jul 31, 2014 11:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Linda wrote: "Purple Hibiscus is the only Adichie book I have read to date and it was excellent. I listened to her at the National Book Awards for 2013 - I think Lily provided the link under the d..."

I have read (and discussed on a B&N board, as well as a tiny bit here) Half of a Yellow Sun. I was impressed and learned a bit about Nigeria in the process. It had been loaned/given to me by a friend with the suggestion to read it -- and became mired in my TBR pile for a long, long time. I stay ignorant enough of the movies that I did not know it had been made into one. May have to look for it.

http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/v... -- I believe this is the link to which Linda refers above. Unfortunately Adichie doesn't appear until near the end of this hour long video, but Linda is right, Adichie is fun to see and hear. (Go directly to 1.05 hr/min for fiction awards.)

I see a Goodreads ad today for a reprint of Adichie's TED talk, I presume the one for which Julia provides a link @4 above.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Movies? Wow, Lily, that's new for me as well.

Adichie is very fun to see and hear. I wish I got a chance to see her talk live someday as well. She's an enchanting story teller, especially when it's her own voice we're hearing. Gotta be jealous of being her kid I guess, imagine all the bedtime stories :)


message 15: by Lily (last edited Aug 01, 2014 05:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Evelina wrote: "Movies? Wow, Lily, that's new for me as well...."

Evelina -- here is the IMDb for Half a Yellow Sun:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2215077/

Gotta be jealous of being her kid I guess, imagine all the bedtime stories :)

Smiled at that perspective! Wiki tells us she is married, but not whether she is a mother. She is thirty-six.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Well, she can always still become a mother.

I just noticed the headline of this placeholder topic xD that was hilarious..


Julia (juliastrimer) Hmm--will there be a thread in the main Americanah discussion for those of us who have finished the book? Seems there's usually a thread for that, so we can post our reviews without worrying about spoilers. Just wondering.


Terry Pearce I just found this.

So it seems to have morphed into a thread not unlike the general discussion ones we sometimes have about links and extra info -- I've moved it into the folder I'd created, not noticing Deb's work. Unfortunately that meant renaming it (for reference Deb had renamed it 'the increasingly inaccurately-named placeholder thread'...

Deborah, I can't edit your initial post -- can you edit it to say something like 'post links and general info on author here'? Just so it's not confusing to new people who come across it.

Meanwhile, post away here and elsewhere in the folder as appropriate...


Terry Pearce The 'Single Story' TED talk is a stone-cold classic. Outstanding.

Linda, for my money, Half of a Yellow Sun surpasses Purple Hibiscus by some margin. I like all three books, but it seems like with HOAYS, she was mining an incredibly rich seam of feeling for her and for the setting that I don't think she's quite matched with the other two. Just my opinion, but if you enjoy the other two, you have to read HOAYS.


message 20: by Julia (last edited Aug 02, 2014 05:37AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Julia (juliastrimer) I agree, Terry--the TED talk is really powerful.

Another lecture by her showed her so alive and comfortable at the University of Nairobi; it's 28 minutes and worth every minute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0nnD...

"Kwani Trust celebrated a decade in artistic, literary and media production, reflecting on a single page in a considerable history of storytelling in Kenya and East Africa, between 27-30th November, 2013. This is a public lecture by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at University of Nairobi's Taifa Hall, with an introduction by Dr. Tom Odhiambo from the Literature Department."

Hearing her in THIS lecture is so different, and I became aware that our f2f book group was all Caucasian, and I could hear her in my mind, as we sat and dissected her book. This video really humbled me.


message 21: by Hanne (new)

Hanne (hanne2) i just got back from the library and brought the book with me. unfortunately it's not the original but a dutch translation. i normally prefer to read my books in the original version, but since they had it at the library it seemed a waste to buy it. just hoping they won't have changed any important things to follow the discussion (names, places etc)!

Thanks for the link to TED, i will definitely watch it. i presume it's perfectly watch-able before finishing the book or will it be better after?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Julia wrote: "I agree, Terry--the TED talk is really powerful.

Another lecture by her showed her so alive and comfortable at the University of Nairobi; it's 28 minutes and worth every minute. https://www.youtu..."


You are right Julia, this is a very different lecture from the TED talk. She is so good at focusing her talk for the audience to which she is speaking. Brilliant.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Terry wrote: "The 'Single Story' TED talk is a stone-cold classic. Outstanding.

Linda, for my money, Half of a Yellow Sun surpasses Purple Hibiscus by some margin. I like all three books, but it seems like with..."


I agree Terry about the TED talk. I am quite in awe of this amazing woman.


Julia (juliastrimer) Hanne wrote: "i just got back from the library and brought the book with me. unfortunately it's not the original but a dutch translation. i normally prefer to read my books in the original version, but since the..."

Hanne, I think you can watch either of the speeches at any time.


message 25: by Lily (last edited Aug 03, 2014 11:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Here is Adichie on the delay of the release of the movie Half a Yellow Sun in Nigeria (in The New Yorker, May, 2014).

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cult...

What sent me looking for this was another more pictoral piece that I can't seem to retrieve again that spoke to Adichie's feelings about the delay. I believe the (more condensed) sentiment in that piece was close to these extracts of/from two paragraphs in the article above:

"The censors’ action is a knee-jerk political response, yet there is a sense in which it is not entirely unreasonable. Nigeria is on edge, with upcoming elections that will be fiercely contested, religion and ethnicity increasingly politicized, and Boko Haram committing mass murders and abductions. In a political culture already averse to openness, this might seem a particularly appropriate time for censorship."

"It is sadly easy, in light of the censors’ action, to overlook the aesthetic success of the film. Its real triumph is not in its politics but in its art. The war is the background to the complicated romance of characters played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, both of whom give the most complex performances of their careers. As a flawed professor, Ejiofor is finally freed from the nobility that was central, and limiting, to his past major roles. Here, his range is breathtaking. Newton brings a nuanced blend of strength and vulnerability to a character for whom she eschews the vanity of a beautiful movie star. On the screen, their chemistry breathes. Cinema, Susan Sontag once wrote, began in wonder, the wonder that reality can be transcribed with such immediacy...."


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Lily wrote: "Here is Adichie on the delay of the release of the movie Half a Yellow Sun in Nigeria (in The New Yorker, May, 2014).

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cult...

What sent ..."


Julia posted that article @4. It is a good one.


message 27: by Lily (last edited Aug 04, 2014 10:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Linda wrote: "Julia posted that article @4. It is a good one...."


Sorry! ;( Thanks for the heads up, Linda! Saw the TED link and skimmed right past this one... Or something equally careless.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3um... -- this is closer to a lecture I remember listening to some time ago, but I don't think it is the same one.


Julia (juliastrimer) What has concerned me is that Adichie didn't seem to be speaking out about the kidnapping of the 300+ Nigerian schoolgirls--until I found this article. It's good to know that she IS voicing her concerns. THIS is the voice that I hope she can use in her future works--not at all self-centered, but passionate in her sense of justice:

THE PRESIDENT I WANT
By Chimamanda Adichie

Some of my relatives lived for decades in the North, in Kano and Bornu. They spoke fluent Hausa. (One relative taught me, at the age of eight, to count in Hausa.) They made planned visits to Anambra only a few times a year, at Christmas and to attend weddings and funerals. But sometimes, in the wake of violence, they made unplanned visits. I remember the word ‘Maitatsine’ – to my young ears, it had a striking lyricism – and I remember the influx of relatives who had packed a few bags and fled the killings. What struck me about those hasty returns to the East was that my relatives always went back to the North. Until two years ago when my uncle packed up his life of thirty years in Maiduguri and moved to Awka. He was not going back. This time, he felt, was different.

My uncle’s return illustrates a feeling shared by many Nigerians about Boko Haram: a lack of hope, a lack of confidence in our leadership. We are experiencing what is, apart from the Biafran war, the most violent period in our nation’s existence. Like many Nigerians, I am distressed about the students murdered in their school, about the people whose bodies were spattered in Nyanya, about the girls abducted in Chibok. I am furious that politicians are politicizing what should be a collective Nigerian mourning, a shared Nigerian sadness.

And I find our president’s actions and non-actions unbelievably surreal.

I do not want a president who, weeks after girls are abducted from a school and days after brave Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest the abductions, merely announces a fact-finding committee to find the girls.

I want President Jonathan to be consumed, utterly consumed, by the state of insecurity in Nigeria. I want him to make security a priority, and make it seem like a priority. I want a president consumed by the urgency of now, who rejects the false idea of keeping up appearances while the country is mired in terror and uncertainty. I want President Jonathan to know – and let Nigerians know that he knows – that we are not made safer by soldiers checking the boots of cars, that to shut down Abuja in order to hold a World Economic Forum is proof of just how deeply insecure the country is. We have a big problem, and I want the president to act as if we do. I want the president to slice through the muddle of bureaucracy, the morass of ‘how things are done,’ because Boko Haram is unusual and the response to it cannot be business as usual.

I want President Jonathan to communicate with the Nigerian people, to realize that leadership has a strong psychological component: in the face of silence or incoherence, people lose faith. I want him to humanize the lost and the missing, to insist that their individual stories be told, to show that every Nigerian life is precious in the eyes of the Nigerian state.

I want the president to seek new ideas, to act, make decisions, publish the security budget spending, offer incentives, sack people. I want the president to be angrily heartbroken about the murder of so many, to lie sleepless in bed thinking of yet what else can be done, to support and equip the armed forces and the police, but also to insist on humaneness in the midst of terror. I want the president to be equally enraged by soldiers who commit murder, by policemen who beat bomb survivors and mourners. I want the president to stop issuing limp, belated announcements through public officials, to insist on a televised apology from whoever is responsible for lying to Nigerians about the girls having been rescued.

I want President Jonathan to ignore his opponents, to remember that it is the nature of politics, to refuse to respond with defensiveness or guardedness, and to remember that Nigerians are understandably cynical about their government.

I want President Jonathan to seek glory and a place in history, instead of longevity in office. I want him to put aside the forthcoming 2015 elections, and focus today on being the kind of leader Nigeria has never had.

I do not care where the president of Nigeria comes from. Even those Nigerians who focus on ‘where the president is from’ will be won over if they are confronted with good leadership that makes all Nigerians feel included. I have always wanted, as my president, a man or a woman who is intelligent and honest and bold, who is surrounded by truth-telling, competent advisers, whose policies are people-centered, and who wants to lead, who wants to be president, but does not need to – or have to- be president at all costs.

President Jonathan may not fit that bill, but he can approximate it: by being the leader Nigerians desperately need now."
http://www.thescoopng.com/exclusive-c...


message 29: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2471 comments Thank you for calling the above to our attention, Julia.


Deborah | 983 comments In light of the conversations we're having in many threads, and in light of the conversation this book has with us, I thought this was a really interesting thing to read (or listen to.)
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2...


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Deborah wrote: "In light of the conversations we're having in many threads, and in light of the conversation this book has with us, I thought this was a really interesting thing to read (or listen to.)
http://www...."


Thanks Deborah. That certainly is related to the discussions and the book. It seems to me that Adichi is doing a good thing in, hopefully, bringing out the distinction between American-Africans and Afican-Americans to the attention her readers.


Whitney | 2102 comments Mod
Just saw that Americanah is being adapted into a miniseries by Danai Gurira.

http://www.konbini.com/ng/entertainme...


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