BOOK REVIEW OF CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE'S AMERICANAH

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah (2013) is a novel merging three continents and countries: Africa,America and Europe. The novel is a story of love between Ifemelu and Obinze, who both cross the huddles that time, distance, race, religion and education placed before them. Adichie satirizes the ills of the society and the need to find identity in this world ridden with corruption and prejudice. She nostalgically reflects the good, the bad and the ugly of her home country,Nigeria. She mirrors the trials and shame, several Nigerians face in the Diaspora. She makes a potent statement about hair. In concluding her epic and award winning novel, Adichie celebrates love, by reuniting Obinze, a man who had gotten married with a daughter, to his secondary love, Ifemelu, a successful outspoken blogger.

Submitted: August 15, 2013

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Submitted: August 15, 2013

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THE POLITICS OF HAIR, SATIRIZATION OF RELIGION – BOOK REVIEW OF CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE’S AMERICANAH

Ewejobi, Dorcas Iranwo-Oluwa

Institute of Anglistisches Seminar, Faculty of Modern Languages

Universitat Heidelberg, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany.

Auf dem Kegel 8 EG- Links 68239 Mannheim, Germany

+4915163179667

iranwo@gmail.com

 

FROM THE WRITER’S WORDS

Excerpts from an interview, Adichie granted Jon Snow of the Channel4news in the United Kingdom, reveals that living in Nigeria and the United States informed the novel, Americanah. Adichie says she likes America but it’s not hers. She likes the stable electricity, the internet, and the convenient things. Nigeria is home but she also likes that she can leave Nigeria. Americanah is a Nigerian story, America seen through a Nigerian eye. This novel according to her is about cultures; a love story between two individuals not between the countries. Adichie is interested in difference permutations of love. “Writing is about you”, she says, so we can deduce that writing Americanah to large extent is about her. Adichie left Nigeria when she was nineteen years old. She confesses that she spells the Nigerian way and also feels the connection to America but yet she feels drawn to her fatherland. The book therefore is about this push and pull. Ifemelu falls in love with Obinze and then leaves for the States. She remains in love though, but she falls in love with Curt, the American guy. She lives with Brain, although she doesn’t necessarily feel she loves him. Adichie argues that this is life; it’s the normal and actual human nature that she tries to portray. Human beings have the ability to love different people in different ways and sometimes even at the same time. Ifemelu has the rare kind of love for Obinze. She goes to the U.S, life goes on, she meets people and she finds a different kind of love. It’s the relationship that makes her grow. So it’s very important for her becoming fully herself.

 

Cross-cultural relationships take on a different stance; it’s easier when the couple share the same culture and more intoxicating when they don’t. There is this layer of the exotic of discovery, of mystery, discovering something about who you love and Ifemelu has that with her American boyfriend. The way America is set up makes it difficult for people of different races to connect particularly, white people and black people. There is segregation in the way people live and think. The novel explains that “there is no such thing as colour blindness” and also, skin colour affects the way people experience the world. Often times, people confuse the difference between race and ethnicity. Nigeria is diverse but not skin colour or race colour diverse.

Adichie says Ifemelu’s experience about race is her story; journeying to the US, comes with new identity. In the United States, race is something where black people stick together. Ifemelu and Adichie had to learn race the same way Americans refuse to mention race. The characters in the novel inhabit the ideology. Adichie tries to write an old fashioned love story. She wants to write contemporary Lagos in a way that it would look to someone who hasn’t visited it for fifteen years and in that, she portrays Ifemelu’s return home.

THE REVIEW

“Everybody recommended Things Fall Apart, which I read in high school. It’s very good but sort of quaint. Right? I mean it didn’t help me understand modern Africa.”

Kelsey one of Adichie’s characters, says. The novel, Americanah rambunctiously reverberates modern Africa, videlicet Nigeria. The novel divaricates through the Nigerian military era to the present democratic rule. On a surface scan it seems a love story, but a plunge into the plot, relates more. Americanah examines the problem of immigration with the setting being woven around the United States, Britain and Nigeria. It’s a story which tests the experience of race, traditional love, identity, loneliness, self invention and identity. It skimps and questions the acceptance of religion as the opium. It stentorianly highlights the difficulty of finding a space in the world. Americanah, as a novel makes a political statement about hair, in fact the novel begins with Adichie’s main character, Ifemelu travelling all the way from Princeton to Trenton in-order to have her hair braided. The writer in like manner drifts through Ifemelu’s upward glance to adulthood, her love escapades with Obinze, Curt and Blaine, her horrors and travails in a land where she is seen as “black” and her success in building a successful blog, while the hair braiding goes on. Aisha finally completes braiding Ifemelu’s hair in part 4, chapter 41, page 366 of the London edition.

Adichie encapsulates her plot in 477pages, 55 chapters, grouped into 7 parts. She employs the use of flashbacks to tell a large portion of her story. In a swift may she transports her readers from the present, to the past; these takes place all through part 1 to part 4. Americanah is Ifemelu’s story but the reader is often left to perceive Ifemelu as just a voice. Occasionally, one loses the character, Ifemelu and confuses her with the author. Adichie, herself in several interviews on Americanah has attested to the fact that Ifemelu as a character has a lot of resemblance to her as a person. Ifemelu bags a Princeton’s fellowship, starts off in the States by baby sitting her cousin, goes on a natural hair journey, has a strong nostalgic felling for Nigeria; all these typifies Adichie. Ifemelu’s personality – argumentative, strong opinionated and outspoken, readily brings to mind Adichie herself. Ifemelu’s quest to express her struggles and challenges with the world’s opinion through her blog is a close kin on what Adichie intends by writing Americanah. Adichie aims at satirizing societal beliefs and practises, she seeks to mildly reveal the strains of paradise, which many Nigerians in Diaspora refuse to voice. Adichie has been known as a fearless writer, who plunges to axe the issues our society would preferably remain silent.

Americanah addresses the unspoken issue of race in America. Adichie vehemently addresses this in her novel, howbeit, she does so in a mild way. She takes on the American culture of silence; vociferously making a statement without uttering a word. “…one of the first things her friend Ginika told her was that “fat” in America was a bad word, heaving with moral judgement…So she had banished “fat” from her vocabulary”. Ifemelu learns fast, she also learns that this is America. You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things.” Just after she had arrived into the States and she curiously noticed a cashier’s behaviour in a clothing store. The cashier tries to find out which of the two sales people had helped her, distinguishing them on all basis but refusing to mention the obvious-skin colour. Adichie’s notes the contradictory way Americans avoid describing someone with the word, “black”. Kimberly, the lady Ifemelu baby-sits for, while she sponsors herself through college, typifies this American norm. “Kimberly used beautiful in a peculiar way…“Oh look at this beautiful woman,” and pointed at a plain model in a magazine whose only distinguishing feature was her very dark skin. “Isn’t she stunning?” “No she isn’t.” Ifemelu paused. “You know you can just say “black”. Not every black person is beautiful.” Americanah seem to be a statement making piece to the three continents Adichie pegs in her novel.

Chimamanda has often times refused to summarize her work, Americanah; when asked to do so in interviews. Reason, probably being that the Americanah cannot be summarized; it is an encompassing engaging novel. Its compass is centred on Ifemelu and Obinze, two love birds who met in secondary school against the wish of “the gods, the hovering deities who gave and took teenage loves”. Obinze, the intelligent young guy, the son of a high principled Nsukka based female Prof, seems to be the most human of all the characters in the novel, while the love of his life Ifemelu, is presented in a narrator’s vibe. Ifemelu and Obinze had a strange kind of love, one which could have possibly existed centuries before; when love was Love. Amidst several odds, which included a marriage to another woman, Kosi with a daughter named, Buchi; a close shave to getting married to Cleotilde; a deportation from the United Kingdom; the death of his mother; staring failure and poverty in the eyes and staying thirteen solid years apart in different continents, Obinze stays true to his childhood love. They had an electrifying connection; Ifemelu confesses that “he made her like herself”. “With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her size.”  Their love blossomed through the constant University strikes in Nigeria. However, as Nigerians of this time sought greener pastures in foreign countries, Ifemelu’s Brooklyn based Aunt, Aunty Uju, encourages her to move to the United States.

Ifemelu who was not a huge fan of the United States gets the Visa easily, unlike her boyfriend, Obinze, who worships everything American and yet is constantly denied the American visa. Ifemelu had high “Cusbian” expectations for the United States, which were soon dashed on her arrival to Aunty Uju’s cockroach ridden one bedroom apartment. Ifemelu had “an eagerness to discover America” and her discovery was an un-expected one. She deciphered the difference between the ASA (African Students Association) and the BSA (Black Students Association); her discovery also included the enormous distinctness between the African American and the American African. The former automatically belongs to the BSA while the latter affiliates with the ASA. Ifemelu’s discovery of  the immense importance of race in the United States, the country where she first gets to see herself as being black, led her in creating a blog: “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black.”  Through Ifemelu’s several blog posts, Adichie makes a potent argument in the novel, making the blog a vibrant part of the story. Adichie strives to alter the misconceptions people have about race. Once, while on a train, Ifemelu met a man who said to her, “Race is totally over hyped these days, black people need to get over themselves, its all about class now, the haves and the have-nots” On a different trip, Ifemelu met a man whose views could clearly be seen as Adichie’s “The only race that matters is the human race” Ever write about adoptions? Nobody wants black babies in this country, and I don’t mean biracial, I mean black. Even the black families don’t want them.” He told her that he and his wife had adopted a black child and their neighbours looked at them as though they had chosen to become martyrs for a dubious cause. Her blog post about him; “Badly dressed White Middle Managers from Ohio Are Not Always What You Think”, had received the highest number of comments for that month.”

Adichie writes about the open secrets Nigerians refuse to talk about. The degradation, ignominy and shame, several Nigerians suffer in Diaspora. She reveals these, through Obinze’s encounters in the United Kingdom. His failure at the edge of breakthrough, when he is being arrested seconds to the commencement of his sham marriage and deported to Nigeria reveals the desperation and false lives several Nigerians in the foreign countries live. Observably, these are real life experiences which contribute to the viewing the novel more as a memoir than fiction writing. Obinze stays illegally in the United Kingdom, resultantly although a graduate, he had to do belittling jobs. “Everyone joked about people who went abroad to clean toilets, and so Obinze approached his first job with irony; he was indeed abroad and cleaning toilets, wearing rubber gloves and carrying a pail, in an estate agent’s office on the second floor of a London building” Obinze works with a different identity, he is therefore forced to answer to another man’s name, Vincent Obi; whose National Insurance card, he uses. Vincent dictates and gets thirty-five percent of every money Obinze makes, until when he decided he wanted more. Adichie satirizes this act, when Obinze receives a supposed surprise birthday party at work. It’s strange enough that he is excepted to respond to his colleagues when they call him Vincent, but gets worse when he celebrates Vincent birthday as though it were his.

Ifemelu goes through a similar experience, where she had to stoop to the lowest pedestal in other to make ends meet. “Just come here and lie down,” he said. “Keep me warm. I’ll touch you a little bit, nothing you’ll be uncomfortable with. I just need some human contact to relay.”… she was already here, already tainted. She took off her shoes and climbed into his bed. She did not want to be here, did not want his active fingers between her legs, did not want high sigh-moans in her ears, and yet she felt her body rising to a sickening wetness. Afterwards she laid still, coiled and deadened” The man, a tennis coach in Ardmore had paid Ifemelu $100, but that experience had left her maim; it had even resulted into the dead silence between herself and Obinze because she could not bring herself to speak with him, afterwards. Ifemelu ever spoke about this experience neither did she try to think about it, not until when she was back to Nigeria in the hands of Obinze, the love of her life.

While satirizing the ills of the society, Adichie mentions the pointless ridiculous practises in Nigeria. Ifemelu’s dad loses his job because he refuses to call his boss, “Mummy”, after several months of remaining jobless and completely dependent on his wife, she said to him, one day “If you have to call somebody Mummy to get your salary, you should have done so!...And Ifemelu knew that, if given another chance, he would call his boss Mummy.” Americanah also highlights the problem of corruption in Nigeria, in the characterization of Chief and Obinze’s sudden wealth boom. The corporeal nature of this is seen in Obinze’s mother, a principled and upright woman, who is subdued by the crooked and nefarious nature of Nigeria and the agonies of defeat to tell a lie in-order to help her son, Obinze acquire the UK visa.

HAIR

“Ifemelu had grown up in the shadows of her mother’s hair. It was black-black, so thick it drank two containers of relaxers at the salon, so full it took hours under the hooded dryer, and, when finally released from pink plastic rollers, sprang free and full, flowing down her back like a celebration. Her father called it a crown of glory. “Is it your real hair?” strangers would ask, and then reach out to touch it reverently.”

Adichie’s obsession with hair is obviously reflected in Americanah. So many elements of Adichie are woven in the book and hair is about it. Hair for Adichie is a political statement. She says, “Black women’s hair is political”. “If your hair isn’t straight people will assume several things, they think you are soulful, a vegetarian, angry, an artist, etc.” She is interested in hair as a means of talking about other things. The portrayal of the media on straight hair is what Adichie wishes to challenge. Adichie says she has fallen in love with hair.

It is safe to say that hair is the first and perhaps one of the important issues analyzed in the novel. Readers are forced to perceive the over flogged sentiments on hair in the novel. The mention of Straight hair, “regular box braids, medium size”; “long trailing dreadlocks”, cornrows -“like a zigzag with a parting to the side”; “small Afro, big Afros”; “Teeny Weeny Afros”; Kinky curls; twists; “massive raucous curls and coils” foregrounds the love the writer has for hair. Ifemelu also appears to be one who is greatly concerned about the way her hair looks. “And then her hair began to fall out at the temples. She drenched it in rich, creamy conditioners, and sat under steamers until water droplets ran down her neck. Still, her hairline shifted further backwards each day.” In Ifemelu’s quest to save her hair, she cuts it short and then faces inferiority complex. She called in sick and avoided going to work for three days, when she finally did go, some of co-workers asked if having her hair cut short means anything political. When she discovers that Curt, her American boyfriend had a meaningless fling with a woman who had “her long hair flowing behind her; a woman who liked her hair and though Curt would too.” she went absurd. Ifemelu sought refuge on the website, HappilyKinkyNappy.com, a fictional website where topic about, and experiences on natural black women hair is discussed. It is probably not coincidental that there is a similar website which thus exist called, Happy Healthy Nappy Curly Kinky Hair Talk ( happyhealthynappycurlykinkyhairtalk.blogspot.com)

Adichie explains the complexities of having to leave ones hair processed and persuasively advocates that all African women go natural with their hair. She highlights the disadvantaged of hair relaxing in an informing manner. In Ifemelu, readers get to picture the challenges faced in having ones hair done, the expense and the distance one has to go, a luxury often taken for granted in African countries. “Since she got to America, she had braided her hair with long extensions, always alarmed at how much it cost. She wore each style for three months, even four months, until her scalp itched unbearably.” In Americanah, the curly woollen African woman’s hair is portrayed as being unaccepted to the Whites. The negative reactions, one gets from colleagues, strangers and friends, informs why several people and even Ifemelu would opt to have their hair straightened. Ifemelu was advised to have her curly hair straightened before appearing for a job interview, if at all she really wanted to get the job; based on the biased thoughts that a curly natural hair does no appear cooperate. Curt disliked Ifemelu’s new look because he feels that it rids her of her identity, a opinion strong enough to sound truly Adichie’s.

“One day, the year Ifemelu turned ten; her mother came home from work looking different. Her clothes were the same, a brown dress belted to the waist, but her face flushed, her eyes unfocused, “Where is the big scissors?” she asked, and when Ifemelu brought it to her, she raised it to her head and, handful by handful, chipped off all her hair. Ifemelu stared, stunned. The hair lay on the floor like dead grass. “Bring me a big bag,” her mother said. Ifemelu obeyed, feeling herself in a trance, with things happening that she did not understand. She watched her mother walk around their flat, collecting all the Catholic objects, the crucifies hung on walls, the rosaries nested in drawers, the missals propped on shelves. Her mother put them all in the polythene bag, which she carried to the backyard; her steps quick, her far away look unwavering. She made a fire near the rubbish dump, at the same spot where she burned her used sanitary pads, first she threw in her hair, wrapped in old newspaper, and then, one after the other, the objects of faith. Dark grey smoke curled up into the air. From the verandah, Ifemelu began to cry because she sensed that something had happened, and that the woman standing by the fire, splashing in more kerosene as it dimmed and stepping back as it flared, the woman was bald and blank, was not her mother, could not be her mother.”

RELIGION

“I am saved,” she said. “Mrs Ojo ministered to me this afternoon during the children’s break and I received Christ. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Praise God. On Sunday we will start going to Revival Saints. It is a Bible- believing church and a living church, not like St. Dominic’s.”

In Ifemelu’s mother, the readers deduce a replica of Eugene, Kambili’s father in Purple Hibiscus, Adichie’s first novel. Ifemelu’s mother is a religious extremist, but unlike Eugene, she is not violent and rather than being a Catholic extremist like Eugene, she converts from the Catholic faith and becomes a Pentecostal extremist. Ifemelu’s mother searches for meaning which is a result of living in a country full of uncertainty and religion offers this meaning. She moves from one Pentecostal church to the other, searching for fulfilment and a hope to hold on to. Our first rendezvous with her religious encounters is the proclamation of her salvation, just after she burns her hair and all Catholic objects in her possessions. Ifemelu’s mother becomes a shadow of herself, her words were not hers and were spoken too rigidly, even her voice had deepened and curled. “After that afternoon, her God changed. He became exacting. Relaxed hair offended Him. Dancing offended Him. She bartered with Him, offering starvation in exchange for prosperity, for a job and promotion, for good health. She fasted herself bone-thin”

Adichie’s satirization of religion becomes cacophonous when Ifemelu’s mother claims to have seen an Angel in the kitchen, who tells her to leave Revival Saints because the pastor was a wizard who attended nightly demonic meetings under the sea. Later on, she sees another angel in a vision, which had appeared above her wardrobe in the bedroom and told her to leave Miracle Spring for Guiding Assembly. In this new church, Ifemelu’s mother cries and laughs at the same time, her spirit seem to have found a home. Probably because it is a church of the wealthy, where she could now wear her jewelleries and drink Guinness stout. Ifemelu’s mother became characterized with phrases such as, “My Bible says”, “My God tells me” and praying in manners of binding the devil and covering everything with the blood of Jesus. Her God became genial and did not mind being commanded. Her new church absorbed her but did not destroy her. It made her predictable and easy to lie to. Her church experiences were replete with ludicrous testimonies; they establish the hunger several Nigerians have for hope.

Ifemelu’s mother lived in denial, she attributed every negative things to the devil, like most Nigerians do, she constantly declared that “the devil is a liar” in the faces of challenges and trails. When Aunty Uju gets into a relationship with an older military general, who was already married; Ifemelu’s mother called it a “miracle”. She perceived that God had smiled on them and sent the General to solve their financial problem. Ifemelu’s mother’s denial got a point of humiliation when she started calling General, Aunty Uju’s mentor. Ifemelu’s neighbours make jest of this, leaving Ifemelu embarrassed.

Ifemelu, being a spirited young girl, who questioned wrong doings, just like Adichie herself; fearlessly, she refused to make garlands in church for Chief Imenka, who she knew was a 419. Her strong willed act, in the face of rejection and castigation, serves as a wake up call to those who silently absorb evil doers in the church. “This church is full of 419 men. Why should we pretend that this hall was not built with dirty money?” Ifemelu’s young rebuking voice was not strong enough to pierce the obdurate heart of Sister Ibinabo, her mother and the blinded church; rather Ifemelu was admonished not to judge but to leave judging to God. These seem to be the practice in Nigeria, where several churches have their front rolls filled with thieves, 419 men, dupes and the likes, once they have their pockets full with money. In a laconic manner, Adichie questions the reasons for religion in Nigeria. Through Ifemelu’s mother and Sister Ibinabo, she reflects the thought that several Christians go to church because they expect something back, making religion a trade by barter practice.

Esther, the receptionist in Zoe Magazine, the organisation Ifemelu worked with after her relocation to Nigeria, is a representation of several Nigerian church goers. This group of people spiritualize everything, they make allusions to God in things that are completely human influenced. Esther reads books like Praying Your Way to Prosperity and at the slightest opportunity invites her senior colleagues to her spirit- filled church, to meet her pastor, a powerful man of God, who is responsible for powerful testimonies in people’s lives. Esther represents single Nigerian ladies who would fast out their lives, praying for God to give them husbands, but would neglect to do the necessary thing that will attract a good husband. “Some months Ester will give her whole salary to her church, they call it “sowing a seed”, then she would come and ask me to give her three hundred naira for transportation.” Esther’s regular fast with handkerchiefs, believing that this will lead to her promotion, lampoons religion and the negligence of productivity and personal development in the work force in Nigeria. Americanah serves as an eye opener to some of these predominant issues in our society, which has gone un-noticed for too long.

AMERICANAH

They roared with laughter, at the word “Americanah”, wreathed in glee, the forth syllable extended, at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affections, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke.

Readers come in contact with the word, “Americanah” for the first in the novel on page sixty-five of the London edition. Americanah is a term used in referring to returnees’ form the States, who strive to speak with the creamy rolled “r”, and the blurring “t”, making sentences which starts with “So” and giving a sliding response of “Oh Really”, people who condemn  everything about Nigeria and constantly make a comparison between Nigeria and the States. It’s a term of endearment, envy, contempt and sometimes of praise.  “Americanah” is also a modern word for “Been-To”. The title of the novel  questions if Ifemelu is an Americanah.

Ifemelu’s decision to return to Nigeria after spending over a decade in the States, refusing to Americanize, only to find herself in the mist of people who found pleasure in mocking Nigeria, Nigerian accent and Nigerians is ironical. Ifemelu was invited to the Nigerpolitan Club meeting by her fellow Americanah in Zoe Magazine, Doris. Ifemelu and Doris, spoofs the way Nigerians say, “I’m pressed” or “I want to ease myself”; when they want to go to the bathroom and the way they say “I will take wine”, using “take” instead of “drink”. At the Nigerpolitan Club, which is made up of  mostly “Americanahs” and a few Europe returnees, they discuss how difficult it is to find a decent smoothie in Lagos, how one cannot find a decent vegetarian restaurant, how there is poor customer service everywhere in Nigeria, how Hollywood is better than Nollywood and most interestingly they frame foreign accents.

Ifemelu on a July morning had previously decided to stop faking an American accent, the decision had been prompted by a telemarketer’s call. She had been repulsed by her own thoughts of feeling accomplished and for thanking the telemarketer when he said she sounded totally American. She wondered why it was a compliment to sound American. With this previous experience in mind and several others in Nigeria, Ifemelu refused to seal her association with the Nigerpolitan Club. She later wrote about them in her new blog, which she called “The Small Redemptions of Lagos

Lagos has never been, will never be and has never aspired to be like New York, or anywhere else for that matter. Lagos has always been undisputably itself, … I imagine myself as an outsider saying: Go back from where you came from! If your cook cannot make the perfect panini, it is not because he is stupid, it is because Nigeria is not a nation of sandwich-eating people and his last oga did not eat bread in the afternoon…And Nigeria is not a nation of people with food allergies, not a nation of picky eaters for whom food is about distinctions and separations. It is a nation of people who eat beef, chicken and cow skin and intestines and dried fish in a single bowl, and it is called assorted.

Adichie’s love for Nigeria is overtly represented in the novel, Americanah. Although several parts of the story is set in the United States and a portion in the United Kingdom, Adichie represents Nigeria, with an endearment aura. This does not stop her in castigating and pointing out the ills predominant in her country. She also tries to be fair in the representation of the United States. She gives a detailed descriptions of the cities and town, expressing their smells in a nostalgic manner. Through the novel, she mentions several parts of the States; Princeton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Willow, Florida, Virginia, Baltimore, New Haven, New York, California, Hamden, and Manhattan. With this, one can argue that the novel is an American novel. Little wonder the novel receives the American prize titled, the 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for fiction.

Adichie expresses her love for Nigerian music in likes of Fela and Onyeka Onwenu in her novel. She puts in several amusing scenes, leaving the readers rolling in laughter and smiles. A crystal example is the pet name; Ifemelu calls Obinze, “Ceiling” and how the name was coined. The first time she let him take off her bra, she lay on her back moaning softly, her fingers splayed on his head, and afterwards she said, “My eyes were open but I did not see the ceiling.”

Adichie made two references to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in the novel. The first was in affirming that Things Fall Apart is the most read African novel, internationally and the second was in pointing out that attempting suicide is not a foreign behaviour, as alleged by Ranyinudi, when she learnt that a boy as sweet as Dike, could attempt suicide. Adichie refers to JP Clark in an alluring manner, when she writes; Obinze is convinced about wanting to attend the University of Ibadan because he had read JP Clark’s Ibadan and was particular captivated by the words “running  splash of rust and gold.

In conclusion, Adichie did a brilliant job in stringing a story as complex as Americanah together in a comprehensible form. The novel had taken five years for her to write and it had turned out to be a time well invested. She however made a common and grave error in constantly referring to the United States as America. I have two friends, one from Brazil and another from Chile, who never take it lightly with anyone who does this slip. America is a continent; the country is the United States. In addition, there are several instances where the narration was dragged and the reader feels like skipping some un-necessary details, perhaps Adichie was more interested in writing a heavyweight novel than she was in keeping the interest of her reading. In her portrayal of enduring and everlasting love, Adichie murders and undermines the sacredness of marriage, when she made Obinze cheat on wife and eventually abandoning his wife and daughter for Ifemelu, this is not a good moral lesson.

The novel is written in a third person narrative voice, with an omniscient narrator but the readers often, feel that Ifemelu is the narrator. Adichie interrupts and influences the readers view about the characters, by prompting us to think the way she wants us to think. She is a possessive narrator, wanting to take part in all the actions and thoughts of the characters and the readers’ perspective. In all, it is a scintillating and effulgent work of art, a true reflection of modern Nigerian and the United States. It is a novel for this present generation of Nigerians, living in Nigeria and in Diaspora. Its coherent plot and plausible characters makes the readers readily relate to it, especially Nigerian readers living in Diaspora. A must have in every library.

 



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