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Ryan Clark

The Story Behind Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - An Interview with the Author


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Review




Americanah is a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published in 2013. It tells the story of two young Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, who fall in love as teenagers and separate when they migrate to different countries. The novel explores their experiences of race, identity, love, and belonging in the contemporary world.




americanah by chimamanda adichie pdf 31



Introduction




What is Americanah about?




Americanah follows the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze, who meet at a secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria. They are both intelligent, ambitious, and curious about the world beyond their country. They share a passion for literature, music, and politics. They dream of going to America together, where they believe they will have more opportunities and freedom.


However, their plans are disrupted by the military dictatorship that rules Nigeria in the late 1990s. Ifemelu gets a scholarship to study in Philadelphia, but Obinze is denied a visa after the 9/11 attacks. They lose contact with each other and embark on different paths.


Ifemelu struggles to adjust to life in America, where she faces racism, poverty, and loneliness. She starts a blog about her observations of race in America, which becomes popular and successful. She also has relationships with different men, but none of them can fill the void left by Obinze.


Obinze moves to London as an undocumented immigrant, where he works in menial jobs and lives in fear of deportation. He marries a British woman for a work permit, but he is caught and sent back to Nigeria. He becomes a wealthy businessman, but he feels empty and unhappy.


After 15 years of separation, Ifemelu decides to return to Nigeria. She reconnects with Obinze, who is now married and has a daughter. They rekindle their romance, but they also have to face the changes that have occurred in themselves and their country.


Who is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?




Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who was born on September 15, 1977. She grew up in Nsukka, a university town in southeastern Nigeria. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year before moving to the United States at the age of 19. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in communication and political science. She later earned a master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a master's degree in African studies from Yale University.


Adichie is one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of her generation. She has published four novels: Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Americanah (2013), and The Thing Around Your Neck (2009). She has also written two nonfiction books: We Should All Be Feminists (2014), based on her TED talk of the same name, and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (2017), based on a letter she wrote to a friend who asked for advice on how to raise a feminist daughter.


Adichie's works have won several awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Orange Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN Pinter Prize. She has also received honorary degrees from several universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Duke. She divides her time between Nigeria and the United States, where she teaches at various institutions.


Why is Americanah important?




Americanah is a novel that tackles some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as race, immigration, globalization, identity, and feminism. It offers a nuanced and insightful perspective on the experiences of Africans in the diaspora, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also challenges the stereotypes and assumptions that often shape the representations of Africa and Africans in the Western media and literature.


Americanah is also a novel that celebrates the power and beauty of storytelling. It shows how stories can connect us across cultures, histories, and geographies. It shows how stories can help us understand ourselves and others better. It shows how stories can inspire us to change ourselves and the world for the better.


Main body




The themes of Americanah




Race and identity




One of the main themes of Americanah is race and how it shapes one's identity and sense of belonging. The novel explores how race is constructed differently in different contexts, and how it affects one's opportunities, relationships, and self-image.


Ifemelu discovers that race is a salient factor in America, where she is categorized as black and has to deal with racism, discrimination, and prejudice. She learns to navigate the complex rules and expectations of being black in America, such as how to speak, dress, act, and think. She also becomes aware of the differences and divisions within the black community, such as between African Americans and African immigrants, or between light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks.


Obinze experiences a different kind of racialization in London, where he is seen as an illegal immigrant and a potential threat. He faces hostility, exploitation, and invisibility. He realizes that his education, class, and culture do not matter in a society that judges him by his skin color and accent.


Both Ifemelu and Obinze struggle to maintain their sense of identity and dignity in the face of racism. They also question their loyalty and connection to their home country, Nigeria, which they left behind for different reasons. They wonder if they can ever return to their roots or if they have become too foreign or too Americanized.


Love and belonging




Another major theme of Americanah is love and how it shapes one's sense of belonging. The novel explores how love can be a source of joy, comfort, and growth, but also a source of pain, loss, and compromise.


Ifemelu and Obinze are the main love story of the novel. They share a deep bond that transcends time and distance. They are each other's first love, first sex, first confidant. They understand each other's dreams and fears. They support each other's ambitions and aspirations. They are soulmates who seem destined to be together.


However, their love is also tested by various challenges and obstacles. They are separated by geography, politics, and circumstances. They drift apart emotionally, intellectually, and culturally. They have other relationships that complicate their feelings for each other. They have to deal with guilt, resentment, jealousy, and betrayal.


The novel also portrays other kinds of love relationships that Ifemelu and Obinze have with different people. These include romantic partners, such as Curt, Blaine, Kosi, and Cleotilde; family members, such as Aunty Uju, Dike, Ranyinudo; friends such as Ginika; mentors such as Kimberly; colleagues such as Shan; rivals such as Kayode; enemies such as The General; etc. These relationships show how love can be diverse and complex and how it can affect one's sense of belonging to oneself to others and to a place


Migration and globalization




A third theme of Americanah is migration and how it shapes one's sense of belonging The novel explores how migration is driven by various factors such as economic political social cultural or personal ```html Migration can have positive and negative impacts on one's life. It can offer new opportunities, experiences, and perspectives. It can also pose challenges, risks, and difficulties. It can enrich one's identity, culture, and worldview. It can also erode one's identity, culture, and worldview.


The novel also shows how migration is influenced by globalization, which is the process of increasing interconnection and interdependence among people, places, and cultures around the world. Globalization can facilitate migration by creating more demand and supply for labor, education, trade, and communication. It can also hinder migration by creating more barriers and inequalities for access, mobility, and security.


The novel depicts how globalization affects various aspects of life, such as politics, economy, society, culture, and environment. It shows how globalization can create opportunities for empowerment, collaboration, and innovation. It also shows how globalization can create problems of exploitation, conflict, and alienation.


The characters of Americanah




Ifemelu




Ifemelu is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. She is a smart, confident, and outspoken woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. She is also a successful blogger who writes about race in America from the perspective of a non-American black.


Ifemelu is a complex and dynamic character who undergoes significant changes throughout the novel. She starts as a naive and optimistic girl who dreams of going to America with her boyfriend Obinze. She becomes a disillusioned and cynical woman who struggles to survive in America as an immigrant and a black woman. She eventually becomes a mature and self-aware woman who decides to return to Nigeria and reconnect with Obinze.


Ifemelu's character development is influenced by her experiences of migration, racism, love, and identity. She learns to adapt to different environments and cultures. She learns to cope with racism and discrimination. She learns to love different people and herself. She learns to embrace her identity as a Nigerian, an Americanah, and a human being.


Obinze




Obinze is the deuteragonist and love interest of the novel. He is a kind, gentle, and thoughtful man who has a passion for literature and history. He is also a wealthy businessman who has a reputation as a "Big Man" in Lagos.


Obinze is also a complex and dynamic character who undergoes significant changes throughout the novel. He starts as a curious and ambitious boy who wants to explore the world with his girlfriend Ifemelu. He becomes a desperate and depressed man who suffers in London as an illegal immigrant. He eventually becomes a successful and respected man who lives in Lagos with his wife Kosi.


Obinze's character development is influenced by his experiences of migration, immigration, love, and identity. He learns to survive in harsh and hostile conditions. He learns to accept his fate and make the best of it. He learns to love different people but never forgets Ifemelu. He learns to balance his identity as a Nigerian, an immigrant, and a human being.


Other minor characters




The novel also features many other minor characters who play important roles in the story. Some of them are:


  • Aunty Uju: Ifemelu's aunt who migrates to America with her son Dike. She is a doctor who has an affair with The General, a powerful politician in Nigeria. She faces many challenges in America as a single mother and a foreigner.



  • Dike: Aunty Uju's son and Ifemelu's cousin. He is born in Nigeria but grows up in America. He suffers from depression and attempts suicide because of his identity crisis as a black American.



  • Curt: Ifemelu's first boyfriend in America. He is a white American who works for his cousin's magazine company. He is handsome, charming, and generous. He loves Ifemelu but does not understand her culture or her struggles with racism.



  • Blaine: Ifemelu's second boyfriend in America. He is a black American who teaches at Yale University. He is intelligent, idealistic, and politically active. He loves Ifemelu but expects her to conform to his standards and opinions.



  • Kosi: Obinze's wife in Nigeria. She is a beautiful and elegant woman who works as an accountant She loves Obinze but does not share his interests or values She is content with her life as a wealthy and influential wife



  • Cleotilde: Obinze's lover in London She is a British woman who marries Obinze for a work permit She is cold, selfish, and manipulative She blackmails Obinze and exposes him to the immigration authorities



  • Ginika: Ifemelu's friend from Nigeria who also migrates to America She is a smart and friendly woman who works as a lawyer She helps Ifemelu adjust to life in America and introduces her to Curt She also experiences racism and discrimination as a black woman



  • Shan: Blaine's sister and Ifemelu's friend in America She is a famous writer and critic who has a mixed-race background She is confident, outspoken, and provocative She challenges Ifemelu's views on race and identity



  • Kayode: Obinze's friend from Nigeria who also migrates to London He is a witty and adventurous man who works as a taxi driver He helps Obinze find a job and a place to stay in London He also faces hostility and exploitation as an immigrant



  • Ranyinudo: Ifemelu's friend from Nigeria who stays in Nigeria She is a fun-loving and pragmatic woman who works as a marketing executive She keeps in touch with Ifemelu and updates her on the news and gossip in Nigeria She also dates rich and married men for money and status



The style of Americanah




Narrative structure




The novel uses a non-linear and alternating narrative structure. It switches between the past and the present, and between the perspectives of Ifemelu and Obinze. The novel consists of four parts, each with several chapters. The first part introduces the main characters and their backgrounds. The second part follows their separate journeys in America and London. The third part shows their reunion in Nigeria. The fourth part concludes their story with an epilogue.


The novel also incorporates various forms of texts within the main narrative, such as blog posts, emails, letters, news articles, etc. These texts add depth and diversity to the story. They also reflect the role of communication and media in the modern world.


Language and dialogue




The novel uses a rich and varied language that reflects the different cultures, contexts, and characters of the story. The novel uses English as the main language, but it also includes words and phrases from other languages, such as Igbo, Yoruba, Pidgin, etc. The novel also uses different dialects and accents of English, such as Nigerian English, American English, British English, etc.


The novel also uses realistic and lively dialogue that reveals the personalities, emotions, and relationships of the characters. The dialogue also shows the differences and similarities among the characters in terms of their culture, class, education, etc. The dialogue also conveys the humor, irony, and sarcasm that often characterize the interactions among the characters.


Humor and irony




The novel uses humor and irony as effective tools to comment on the serious issues of race, immigration, globalization, identity, etc. The novel uses humor to lighten the mood and entertain the reader. It also uses humor to expose the absurdities and contradictions of the situations and characters. The novel uses irony to create contrast and tension between what is expected and what is actual. It also uses irony to criticize and challenge the stereotypes and assumptions that often shape the perceptions of Africa and Africans.


Conclusion




Summary of the main points




In conclusion, Americanah is a novel that tells the story of two young Nigerians who migrate to different countries for different reasons. It explores their experiences of race, identity, love, belonging in the contemporary world. It also portrays their reunion after 15 years of separation.


The novel is written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer who is one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of her generation. She has published four novels and two nonfiction books that deal with various issues such as feminism, war, culture, etc.


The novel is important because it tackles some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as racism immigration globalization identity and feminism It offers a nuanced and insightful perspective on the experiences of Africans in the diaspora, especially in America and Britain It also challenges the stereotypes and assumptions that often shape the representations of Africa and Africans in the Western media and literature.


Evaluation of the book




Americanah is a book that I enjoyed reading very much. I think it is a well-written, ```html Americanah is a book that I enjoyed reading very much. I think it is a well-written, engaging, and thought-provoking novel that captures the complexity and diversity of the human experience. I think it is a novel that can appeal to a wide range of readers, regardless of their background, culture, or interest.


I liked how the novel used a non-linear and alternating narrative structure that kept me interested and curious about the outcome of the story. I liked how the novel incorporated various forms of texts that added depth and diversity to the story. I liked how the novel used a rich and varied language that reflected the different cultures, contexts, and characters of the story.


I also liked how the novel used humor and irony to comment on the serious issues of race, immigration, globalization, identity, etc. I liked how the novel used realistic and lively dialogue that revealed the personalities, emotions, and relationships of the characters. I liked how the novel used humor and irony to expose the absurdities and contradictions of the situations and characters.


I admired how the novel tackled some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as racism, immigration, globalization, identity, and feminism. I admired how the novel offered a nuanced and insightful perspective on the experiences of Africans in the diaspora, especially in America and Britain. I admired how the novel challenged the stereotypes and assumptions that often shape the representations of Africa and Africans in the Western media and literature.


Recommendations for further reading




If you enjoyed reading Americanah, you might also like to read some of these books:


  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This is Adichie's first novel, which tells the story of a young girl who grows up in a wealthy but abusive family in Nigeria during a military coup.



  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This is Adichie's second novel, which tells the story of three characters who are affected by the Nigerian Civil War in the 1960s.



  • The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This is Adichie's third novel, which is a collection of short stories that explore various aspects of Nigerian life at home and abroad.



  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This is Adichie's first nonfiction book, which is based on her TED talk of the same name. It is a personal and powerful essay on why feminism is important for everyone.



  • Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This is Adichie's second nonfiction book, which is based on a letter she wrote to a friend who asked for advice on how to raise a feminist daughter. It is a practical and inspiring guide on how to empower girls and women.



  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: This is a novel by a Dominican-American writer who tells the story of a nerdy and overweight boy who grows up in New Jersey and dreams of becoming a writer and finding love.



  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: This is a novel by an Indian-American writer who tells the story of a Bengali family who immigrates to America and struggles to balance their traditions and identities.



The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: This is a novel by an Afghan-American writer who tells the story of two boys who grow up in Kabul during the Soviet inv


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