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Americanah follows the journey of an African immigrant to America

Photo courtesy of http://chimamanda.com/books/americanah/

Americanah follows the journey of an African immigrant to America

Grace Stroup, Sentry Staff Reporter

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The face of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author and fervent women’s rights activist, appeared on the screen of the SmartBoard in my english class last year and I was immediately enthralled. Adichie gave a TedTalk titled, “The Danger of a Single Story” where she discusses the critical misunderstanding that occurs when a nation is exposed to only one side of a country or a culture. She also published her smashing success of a novel, Americanah in May of 2013. Americanah is a piece of realistic fiction that follows the place of race in a young woman’s identity as well as a distant relationship that is stuck in time back in Nigeria.

The novel tells the story of a young woman coming to  America to receive an education and eventually staying for work. She learns what it means to be African in the states and how her life is totally shaped by her newfound race. Adichie writes with nostalgia seeping through the pages. She tells the story through the heart of one character but through the eyes of many.

Adichie received mass praise for her novel, even getting awarded with the 2013 National Books Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The book is different than anything else I have ever read mostly for the dialogue on African culture and the discussion of women’s identity. Adichie masterfully intertwines romance and youth over long periods of time and thousands of miles.

I really found this novel to be so interesting solely because of its description of America. It was honest.  The young woman in the book finds the country to be way less glittery and welcoming than it is so advertised to the rest of the world. She finds that her idea of reality in the states was greatly skewed.  She misses the busy streets of Nigeria and its arid climate. In order to receive the education she so desperately wants, she has to learn to live with the loneliness of this new country.

This book is fluid throughout. The writing is eloquent and funny. Adichie is able to immerse the reader in this woman’s life so effortlessly that I really feel like I know her.  I know about the strain her relationships went through. I know about the culture shock and the way her new apartment smelled.  Adichie reiterates her points made in her TedTalk about the dangers of telling a single story in Americanah by doing the opposite. Americanah is complex; it tells the story of a tumultuous love story across two continents. It re-lives years past. It questions the years in the future.

Americanah is not a single story. Americanah is the story that shares the many more that exist.

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