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Americanah
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2014 Book Discussions > Americanah - Part I (August 2014)

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message 1: by Terry (last edited Aug 06, 2014 07:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Terry Pearce Please comment here only on the contents of Part I (Chapters 1-2). Don't include any spoilers for later parts.

In these openeing chapters, we are introduced to a panoply of African characters, from the hairdressers in the US to the Chief and his sycophants in Nigeria, and from the respectful chauffeur to the parents keen for an English education.

Did any of these ring true from your own experiences?

How do you think these portraits set the scene for what is to come?


message 2: by Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (last edited Aug 01, 2014 06:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments The thing I love about Adichie's book is how casual she makes any country, be it America or Africa. That basically means that even if I'm reading about Africa, which might be totally exotic for me, it still feels down to earth and normal. It takes away the exotic feel of it, taking away the alienation we often feel to places like that.
The first part, along with the hairdo process, all feels like a preparation for her leaving - the preparation for the book itself.

I'm really curious about Obinze and how the story will progress with him. I really have no connections with the book because of its setting - I am too far away from both Africa and America. But Obinze makes the story psychologically closer to me, because it seems that Obinze and Ifemelu have a similar story (in certain regards so far) to something I have had in my life, in the sense of separation through distance. I'm very curious how it will turn out.

So far I really like Uju's character. Seems like the typical strong aunt character in Adichie's work (one I remember from Purple Hibiscus). A lot of the characters seem typical to Adichie, not quite the same as her other ones, but they have some very strong common themes. And the religious issue is very stressed in the book as well. It must have to do with the situation in Nigeria, don't you think? Seems so different from where I live in this regard.

However, I find the book a little bit slow. But then it's over 400 pages.


Nutmegger Linda (lindanutmegger) | 103 comments As an American, I always find it interesting to see how people from other countries view us. So far I think the author has done a very good job at sizing us up.


message 4: by Julie (last edited Aug 01, 2014 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Terry wrote: "Please comment here only on the contents of Part I. Don't include any spoilers for later parts...."

Do you have chapter numbers for each part? I have no idea what part I am in! (chapter 7)


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Julie, I believe you are still in part one. I don't have my copy handy, but the end of one part and the beginning of the next was very clearly marked. There was a page that was blank except for, e.g., "Part Two."


Terry Pearce Hi Julie.

I'll add these.

Part I is in fact only the first three chapters (to the point where we've found out about Obinze and the Chief and Obinze and his wife, having already seen Ifemelu in the hairdressers). You're now in Part II, all the way up to Chapter 22, inclusive.


Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Julie wrote: "Do you have chapter numbers for each part? I have no idea what part I am in! (chapter 7)"

Julie --Try here (Amazon Look Inside for the Kindle edition):
http://www.amazon.com/Americanah-Chim...

Part 1: Chapters 1 - 2
Part 2: Chapters 3 - 22
Part 3: Chapters 23 - 30
Part 4: Chapters 31 - 41
Part 5: Chapters 42
Part 6: Chapters 43
Part 7: Chapters 44 - 55

Hope that's correct!


Deborah | 983 comments Obinze seems more fond of his wife than in love with her. And Adichie has painted her in broad candy colored strokes. It feels a little cruel of both of them. But the cruelty also seems unintentional and it's hard to hold them responsible.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Aug 02, 2014 04:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Oh, dear, I may end up re-reading this thing, although I really may need to use time otherwise. It IS one of those books I view as worthy of such. I forgot that I had bought a Kindle copy (I mix library and personal so much) -- nice surprise when I looked.

Anyway, one of the things I noted, but didn't follow up last time is the book Cane by Jean Toomer that Ifemelu is reading. Neat little piece of character description of Ifemelu and contrast with Blaine. (Go to Amazon for some fuller descriptions of the book and author than Goodreads supplies.)

Not really spoilers, just comments on the setting: (view spoiler)


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Thanks guys! I was flipping through, trying to find the beginning of part 2 but I couldn't. I guess I didn't expect it to be so close to the front. That is not something I would remember if I already passed it while reading.


Matthew | 154 comments This book is very well written, but it makes me uncomfortable to comment on it. It reads to me so far like a book written by a Nigerian for an intended audience of other Nigerians. Everything from "I hope I don't get a Nigerian taxi driver" to the women in the hair salon to Obinze's corrupt business dealings strike me as the author holding up a mirror to her own people, and I feel voyeuristic as a non-African making judgments.


Terry Pearce Thanks, Lily.

Evalina, I think you're right about her making it feel casual and familiar. How do you think she achieves this?

I agree that if the book has a flaw it seems a little slow. For me, I wonder if Half of a Yellow Sun, for instance, was more tightly edited, more taut. I don't mind too much because it is very interesting, but I do wonder if the whole would be polished further by a little more editing. I wonder if this is to do with her being more established now?


Terry Pearce Matthew, I agree with you about the mirror, but for me I'm not sure that makes its intended audience Nigerians. I think this actually dovetails with Evalina's thought about familiarity.

For my part, particularly as the book progresses, I wonder if part of Adichie's aim is to make people like you and I feel uncomfortable, to shake us out of out comfort zone with regard to the issues presented. What do you think about this idea?


Matthew | 154 comments Terry -- it is possible that there are multiple audiences, or that it changes, as I am only on page 100. I can't help but compare with Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart that begins as a study of a Nigerian village, with its social stratifications, nobility, and savagery. It them adds Christian missionaries, and shows how the society's "losers" were easy pickings for Christian missionaries who preached equality before Christ, and finally showed how the missionaries destroyed the valuable parts of the culture as well as the troublesome ones.

There was something for everyone in Things Fall Apart, and maybe that will come, but so far the comparisons I'm seeing are to early Phillip Roth ("oh, those Jews! They're so neurotic!") or late Barbara Kingsolver, like The Poisonwood Bible ("Oh those missionaries! So out of touch!") that may serve a valuable purpose for the group written about,, but leaves outsiders left to chuckle and say. "Ha! People who are different from me sure are silly!"


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments Terry wrote: "Did any of these ring true from your own experiences? ...."

I can't say that much of anything in this book so far is relatable to my own experiences


message 16: by Lily (last edited Aug 02, 2014 04:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Matthew wrote: "Terry -- it is possible that there are multiple audiences, or that it changes, as I am only on page 100. I can't help but compare with Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart that begins as a study of a ..."

Matthew -- I took the time this afternoon to listen to this rather lengthy lecture by Adichie. She says there that in general she does not particularly consider her intended audience when she is writing -- almost as if she is writing for herself, what she would like to read about. I can believe that when I reflect upon this book -- almost a self reflection and exploration of the world as she has seen it and now thinks about it -- and that is really just a guess! (Will be back with the link -- I had already posted it elsewhere.)

Here is the link: http://www.princeton.edu/WebMedia/fla...


message 17: by Sandra (last edited Aug 03, 2014 07:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandra | 114 comments I can't say anything I've read thus far is relatable to my own experiences either. I'm white, I don't get my hair braided, I don't view my fellow Americans as an outsider looking in, I don't care if a grown adult man eats an ice cream cone in public...Ifemelu comes off as very judgmental about the people she encounters. To me, it's almost like she's saying "I'm African-American, the rest of you blacks are just Americans, same as the whites". I've only just started so we'll see, but that's kind of how it feels to me right now. I think when she goes back to Africa she will find she is not really so much African anymore... that America has rubbed off onto her and even her home will feel somehow foreign.


Matthew | 154 comments Lily -- I will check out the interview when I am finished. For my perspective, though, there is little space between "I write for a Nigerian audience" and "I write for myself, and I am Nigerian" unless she views herself as a fundamentally atypical Nigerian.

Ifemelu comes off as very judgmental, which I could relate to, since I am also very judgmental. The author makes the job easy for herself, though, by making everyone except Ifemelu and Obinze stereotypes that are fairly easy to judge.

I will be pleasantly surprised if Obinze is outsmarted by his wife or Ifemelu learns on important life lesson from a hair braider, but at this point I'm not optimistic.


Deborah | 983 comments I think the obnoxious factor is mitigated by us not observing her being judgmental so much as observing her observe herself.


Matthew | 154 comments Oh, I don't know. It seemed pretty straightforward-judgmental to me, at least in the beginning. Ifemelu is presented right off the bad as the kind of person who would have a 30 second conversation with me and them turn it into a blog post entitled "Here's how all people like that guy are." Just a few examples of her judgmentalness, all from Chapter 1:

"She hoped her driver would not be a Nigerian because . . ." (p. 10)

"It was her first time at this salon . . . but it would look, she was sure, like all the other African hair braiding salons." (p. 10)

"Ifemelu imagined [Aisha] working in a market in Dakar, like the braiders in Lagos who would blow their noses and wipe their hands on their wrappers." (p. 15)

"Ifemelu thought little of Nollywood films, with their exaggerated histrionics and their improbably plots." (p. 16)

"Ifemelu decided she did not like Aisha at all." (p. 19)

Meanwhile, Aisha the hair braider is presented as so simple-minded: "Igbo marriy Igbo always" or "Ifemelu had finally given [Aisha] a comprehensible reason for wanting to move back" (to see her man) that we are invited to be judgmental right along with her.


message 21: by Lily (last edited Aug 03, 2014 12:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Matthew wrote: "...Ifemelu is presented right off the bad as the kind of person who would have a 30 second conversation with me and them turn it into a blog post entitled "Here's how all people like that guy are." ..."

[g] And it sounds to me as if you wouldn't trust her to "get it right"?

Despite the surprises she describes (the dread-locked man, the man from Ohio), this passage suggested to me that she didn't trust herself either, at least any more:

For length, in (view spoiler)


Terry Pearce Is Ifemelu more judgmental than most? Or is she just more outspoken, and we more privy to her thoughts?

Lily and Deborah, I think your comments gel. Throughout, Ifemelu is unsure of herself. She sees the world, and she wonders if she sees it right. This is perhaps the feature of hers with which I most closely identify, and the most sympathetic. She has strong opinions, and does not want to remain silent, but she also doubts.


Terry Pearce When I was asking about these things ringing true, I was aiming more to find out if they bore any counterpart in people's real experience of Africans, particularly Nigerians, and particularly Africans in America.

Although, Sandra, now that you interpret it that way I think it could be an interesting direction for conversation, too. How does the fact that you share so little in common with Ifemelu affect the way you view her, do you think?

I can't speak about your prediction as I've read too far to do so without spoilers, but I think it is an interesting prediction.


Sandra | 114 comments I haven't gotten much of a feel for Ifemelu yet as I'm only starting part two. But I have to say I don't have much in common with Ifemelu especially because she is from another country, and not only that but from a different race. Then again I don't have much in common with a lot of people, most from my own country! But Ifemelu is very assertive, for example, bossing the hairdresser when I just am not like that at all (although, maybe that's just how Nigerians treat others who are in a subservient role?). She is very self confident (at least to the outside world, maybe she is more questioning inwardly).I feel like she is in a weird place emotionally because if she's been in the US 13 years she has to at least be in her 30s, a time when most people take stock of where they are in terms of career, relationships, children. It seems she is dissatisfied, hence the thoughts of moving back to Nigeria, wondering about and in fact contacting an old love. I think it would be very hard to become comfortable in another country and culture but I still feel perhaps she's stayed too long and has been altered by the culture of the US.


message 25: by Casceil (last edited Aug 03, 2014 06:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Terry, your question about how our personal experiences affect our view of Ifemelu helped me put into perspective why I disliked the character so much in the beginning of the book. I had a little bit of a parallel with her, in that I attended Princeton as part of the Class of 1975, the first class to include a substantial number of women. I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and had never been further north than southern Oklahoma. Then, as now, Princeton had aid-blind admissions, and if you got in, they found the money for you to go there. Princeton has always valued diversity, not just racially but geographically and economically. When I got to Princeton, it was a complete culture shock. I was surrounded by people who came from other places and had a very different idea of what constituted "good manners." I was "different" from most of them in a lot of respects. I was female, which put me into a minority to begin with, since there were eight times as many men as women at Princeton. My sex was viewed by some as a violation of a centuries old tradition. Some of the upper classmen who had chosen to go to Princeton expecting it to be all male viewed females on campus as some sort of sacrilege. Others were more tolerant but amused--"she's not a girl, she's a coed," and, from some of the men on the fencing team, an unspoken, "everyone knows girls can't fence, but isn't it funny to watch them try.") I was a kid from Texas. When I first traveled North to Princeton in fall of 1970, many people perceived Texas as the wild West. "Do people still wear guns in the streets there? Or "Dallas, isn't that the place where Kennedy got shot?" Or "do you have a horse at home?" I was on the wrong side of a huge economic divide. A healthy percentage of the class were on financial aid, like me, but most came from wealthy backgrounds, or at least a lot more money than I was used to. I was less educated than most of my class-mates, since I was the product of the Dallas Independent School District rather than a prep school or more demanding East Coast school. My high school math did not meet the prerequisites for the lowest level math class offered at Princeton.
Were there snobby, prejudiced people who looked down on me? Sure, you find some people like that everywhere. But there were great numbers of people who treated me the same way they treated everyone, and I made life-long friends of some of them. Most people there cared more about whether I was a likeable human being and sufficiently intelligent to hold my own, not about where I started from. It took a while for me to realize that some people I thought were being rude to me were just teasing me the way they would their friends, and that among Northerners this wasn't rude, it was a sign of acceptance.

So back to Ifmelu. Early in the book she seems incredibly close-minded and judgmental. Rather than trying to understand and fit in with those around her, she seemed to be determined to stay an outsider, and to relish reactions she interpreted as prejudice. It takes someone who feels very superior to look down on a man eating an ice-cream cone while waiting for the dinky train to Princeton Junction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princeto...
Ifmelu struck me as an incredible snob herself. So that's how I "relate" to her adventures. You find good and bad people everywhere. She seemed to expect the worst.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Terry wrote:
Evalina, I think you're right about her making it feel casual and familiar. How do you think she achieves this?"


Terry, I think it's because she writes for Africa. I've heard that in one of her interviews (or read somewhere?) that she generally doesn't write for foreigners. She writes for her own country. If you were to write for your own people, naturally everything would come out casual and natural. I think the reason why we have so many over-exotic books about non-Western places is because most of the writers who write those are foreigners writing about countries they went to (or worse yet - countries they've never even been to).

But then again she writes about America too. So maybe she's writing not only for Nigerians, but also for the people who left Africa for America, and people who may already feel half-American even. A wide and colorful audience, it seems.


message 27: by Lily (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Casceil wrote: "...When I first traveled North to Princeton in fall of 1970, many people perceived Texas as the wild West. "Do people still wear guns in the streets there? Or "Dallas, isn't that the place where Kennedy got shot?" Or "do you have a horse at home?"..."

Casceil -- your comments lead me to ask whether you have had a chance to read Philipp Meyer's The Son yet? One of its characters is an exceptionally strong Texan daughter who talks of her foray into the wilds of the North, also at the forefront of shifting societal roles and expectations for women. I listened to the book and missed a lot of it, but it has several memorable characters, even if not always likeable.

Question on Princeton geography/logistics: Does one have to take the Dinky Train to Princeton Junction to get the train over to Trenton?

One of the things that bothered me -- why take a train to Trenton instead of driving? Was it a literary device on Adichie's part that allowed her to introduce some additional characters and interactions?

I am fascinated by Matthew's "judgment" that the secondary characters are stereotypes. I find myself asking why are they there and does the author use them well in her storytelling (How does she use them?). Somehow, like Ifmelu's quick sizing up of people, Matthew's comment has the same sense of cutting through to the quick for me. (But perhaps I should also ask "If.")

For length's sake, I'm going to put the rest of this into spoiler format. It should have no actual "story spoilers." (view spoiler)


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Lily, I have not read The Son, but I may get to it yet. One does not have to take the Dinky train, but, at least when I was there, taking the train was the simplest and most convenient way to get to Trenton. It was faster than driving, and considerably faster than taking the bus, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to park in Trenton.

About the hair-braiders, and your question "why are they there and does the author use them well in her storytelling?" This is still the thread for Part I, so I think it would be better to discuss that in a later thread. Non-spoiler comment, however. When I first encountered that part of the story, it struck me as somewhat contrived and an annoying detour. But we kept going back to that salon through the book, and I thought that the author did use those women well in her story-telling. By the time I got to the end of the book, I could see why they were there.

Good luck with eye surgery. Let me know how it goes.


Deborah | 983 comments I can't argue with Matthew. I just had a very different reaction.


Matthew | 154 comments You can certainly argue with me!

As you continue reading, though, pay attention to Ifemelu's initial reaction to every new character. Does she make a snap judgment about him or her? (Probably.) Is that snap judgment ever wrong? (Not that I've seen yet.)

Lily said:
And it sounds to me as if you wouldn't trust her to "get it right"?

Maybe yes or maybe no. Most likely she would get one aspect of my character right, but that may not be the most important thing about me.

As a character in a book, what is important to me is whether (a) her judgmentalness is being used to identify her as a judgmental person -- a potential character flaw; or (b) her judgmentalness is being used as a shorthand to let us know about the characters she is judging. The first seems more interesting to me, the second just seems lazy.

I'm only halfway through now, so I don't know which one it'll be. I'm enjoying the story enough to continue to the end, either way.


Aitziber | 22 comments I'm glad this group is discussing Americanah. I found Goodreads after I read it, and I was late to discussions in other groups. But I'm on time now! :)

Anyway, I find it interesting that some members are so focused on Ifemelu's judgmental nature. (That's definitely an intentional character trait.) I found her opinions interesting -- they're definitely shaped by her culture and her experiences. As I don't know much about Nigerian culture (I'm European and white), I took it as a look into the values of this culture.

Ifemelu doesn't just judge America, she also judges Nigeria and Nigerians harshly. I feel that a more passive narrator would do a disservice to the book. Since Ifemelu is so judgmental, we get an instant, clear perspective on tribe relations, class differences, and what Nigerians make of America. I don't think we're supposed to take Ifemelu as her word -- or else Adichie would cover Ifemelu's bigotry about certain aspects, such as her reactions to Aisha, much better. The fact that she makes such snap judgments based on her values/ideas is what makes readers stop and question whether Ifemelu may not be biased, and it's passages such as "Ifemelu imagined [Aisha] working in a market in Dakar, like the braiders in Lagos who would blow their noses and wipe their hands on their wrappers" that make it intentional. Any reader with even a passing interest in social justive (which plays a very large role in Americanah) is going to stop and think, "Wow, Ifem can be kind of an ass!"

But in giving these opinions to Ifemelu, the reader gets a lot of subtle information about Nigerian society and culture. That said, it may make Americanah too distasteful for certain readers. Myself, it reminded me of another book I enjoyed, Everything Is Illuminated, where the character Alex is also very judgmental (and offensive!), but you have such a good time reading the book that it doesn't matter.


message 32: by Lily (last edited Aug 12, 2014 06:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Casceil wrote: "About the hair-braiders, and your question "why are they there and does the author use them well in her storytelling?"..."

And not just the hair-braiders as secondary characters, I presume Matthew was referring to virtually all except Ifemelu and Obinze @18. See also his comment b) @30 -- that's a new twist to think about for me. Do we know these characters only through the eyes of Ifemelu's judgments?

Later add: I don't think so. I think other characters do get described in terms of themselves and their own actions, such as her mother, family, and the characters in Britain and Nigeria, even when as observed by Ifemelu.


Deborah | 983 comments Matthew wrote: "You can certainly argue with me!"

Hah! I mean I feel capable. But I don't know that you're wrong. I didn't see it the way you did. And I think that's kind of neat.


Terry Pearce I will be interested in your thoughts as the book progresses, Matthew, but I wonder if your two options are mutually exclusive. If someone is judgmental and this is a flaw, does it preclude them often being right about the people they judge.

When we use judgment in this sense, we are not just saying that one infers something about another, but that they judge them harshly and in a more general sense because of it. What do you think about the idea that good instincts and inference about others can live alongside a tendency to be judgmental in the negative sense? Can you see Ifemelu in this light?


Terry Pearce Aitziber, I enjoyed your comment.

I think there is something to the idea that perhaps it is hard to kick ass, without taking down a few names.

On the other hand, when people go too far with this, it can turn one into an ass.

Does Ifemelu walk this tightrope? Does she need to be a little bit of an ass sometimes to kick some ass?


message 36: by Lily (last edited Aug 05, 2014 05:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Hmm -- the positioning of Ifemelu as judgmental and bigoted is not the reaction to her with which I originally read the story (maybe at this point in my life I have lived among too many strong American North Easterners, vocal in their opinions, observations, and expectations of the world -- often with a more ambiguous underbelly), although I see the validity of the points made here. I now find myself asking, what does creating such a character writing the blogs and comments on American race relations do for the story? Does it allow the reader to read them with more skepticism, yet acknowledgement of them as observations by a certain kind of person? Or, something else?

("Quick" and "observant" are among the character terms I might have chosen.)

In this lecture, Adichie warns of the dangers of using the "single story" to understand a person, a community, a nation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs2...


Terry Pearce Personally, Lily, I had the same experience. I found her (and still find her) very easy to root for and sympathetic.

I certainly wouldn't call her bigoted. I guess the way I would see it in light of some of the other comments is perhaps 'uncharitable'. But I find it quite understandable in light of her position. Also, would she raise any awareness if she were more charitable?


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I think the braiding is "the NOW moment" what we keep coming back to sum up the chapters of the past. Because all of the past is like a sum of flashbacks, you need a grounded point to come back to.


Terry Pearce Something that made me think about Ifemelu in a clearer way was a personality questionnaire I was doing just now. Two questions:

Q) I am not afraid to voice my opinions, even when they are in opposition to the opinions of most people.

Q)I tend to worry about what other people think of me.

You would think that these questions would generally be in opposition to each other, i.e. many people would agree with one and disagree with the other.

I answered 'agree' to both of these questions, and found myself thinking that so would Ifemelu. Which may be a part of why I identify with her.

----------------------------------------------

By the way, folks, don't forget to comment on the later threads once you get to the appropriate part.


Julie (readerjules) | 196 comments I found that I did not like Ifem much at the very beginning of the book (especially when she spoke about her blog), but now I sympathize with her more. Or maybe I just like the younger Ifem better. She seems kind of annoying to me in the hair salon also. I just got to where she went to the US, so we'll see where my opinion goes.


message 41: by Jan (new)

Jan Notzon | 100 comments Casciel: I had the same experience when I moved from Austin to New York. Earlier, when I moved from Laredo, where I grew up, to Austin to attend the university, people would say, "You're from Laredo!? How is that possible?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2298 comments Terry wrote: "Something that made me think about Ifemelu in a clearer way was a personality questionnaire I was doing just now. Two questions:

Q) I am not afraid to voice my opinions, even when they are in oppo..."


Terry, I would agree with you in thinking that Ifemulu would have answered yes to both of those questions. Part I seems like the kind of introduction to a book where we are treated to something that occurs in the middle or later of the story that is going to be told.

Yes, I can see why folks would term Ifemulu as judgmental, but I'm not seeing her as judgmental in the negative connotation of that word. Heck, I find myself making similar judgments about individuals and classes of people on a regular basis - judgments that I keep to myself because they could well be wrong or just be the result of my mood.

I think that my reading is influenced by Adiche's TED talk and perhaps some of the other talks I've listened to or articles by her I've read. I remember her wondering why people did not ask her about her characters in Purple Hibicus instead of about the politics. I am trying to focus on the characters and how they act and interact. When Part I ended, I wanted to know more about Ifemulu and Obinzi.

I am much further along now and, despite the rather slow beginning, find myself very caught up in the story. I am listening to the audible version and very much enjoying the various accents the reader is using - she is very good.


message 43: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Jan wrote: "Casceil: I had the same experience when I moved from Austin to New York. Earlier, when I moved from Laredo, where I grew up, to Austin to attend the university, people would say, "You're from Lared..."

LOL! I grew up in the Midwest, moved to Vermont in my twenties, and have now worked and lived in the NJ/NYC environs for 40+ years. I can relate to what you and Casceil say and imply!


Terry Pearce Linda, I agree. I wonder if we see her as more judgmental because we are privy to the kind of thoughts on her part that we ordinarily would not hear, but that many of us have fleeting across our minds.


message 45: by Kai (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kai Coates (southernbohemian) | 24 comments I'm pretty surprised by the number of people who feel a disconnect with the characters because they come from a different background. I read war books, but have never been to war - does that mean I should feel disconnected from the characters? We all have our unique perspectives on the world. In my opinion, good art has the ability to make you embrace the artist's perspective as natural, not foreign. So far, Adichie has done that very well for me. I know next to nothing about Nigeria, but I can commiserate with a boring cocktail party. I've never had my hair braided, but her writing brought the salon to life for me.

So far the book is reminding me of Zadie Smith's writing - not just the immigrant themes, but also the sly humor.


message 46: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Kai wrote: "I'm pretty surprised by the number of people who feel a disconnect with the characters because they come from a different background. I read war books, but have never been to war - does that mean ..."

Thank you for your comment, Kai. I, too, felt the points of human connection were as pervasive as the ones of differences -- and both were present, adding to the richness of the "listening" to other voices and experiences.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2298 comments Kai wrote: "So far the book is reminding me of Zadie Smith's writing - not just the immigrant themes, but also the sly humor."

I can see the connection with Zadie Smith that you note, although I find myself enjoying Adichie's books more.


Terry Pearce I agree with everything you've said, Kai.

I did think of Zadie Smith, but I also agree with Linda that Adichie connects more for me.


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