Five words from the blurb: America, Nigeria, experiences, race, relationships
I’ve enjoyed all of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s previous books and so was keen to try her new one. Americanah is very different in style and feels like a more accomplished piece of writing, but I missed the raw emotion of her earlier books.
Americanah focuses on Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman, who moves to America. She begins a blog that highlights race issues in the country and when she returns to Nigeria we see how America has influenced her as she struggles to adapt to life back in her native country.
Adichie does a fantastic job of creating characters. I quickly felt as though I knew them personally and I loved the attention to detail. Entire scenes zinged with life and the dialogue felt natural, leading to several amusing passages.
I also loved the blog entries. I thought they did a wonderful job of highlighting the differences between the treatment of blacks and whites in America. It was a wonderful device that allowed Adichie to show her skills as an essay writer to the full.
The main problem with the book was its length. The plot wasn’t complicated enough to justify the 470 pages and I found that I lost interest on several occasions. There were even a few points when I considered abandoning it. If you are happy to be immersed in the life one or two individuals then I’m sure you’ll love this book, but I longed for a more compelling plot.
It also lacked the emotional power of her earlier novels. I’m sure that most people will be glad that this book isn’t dominated by war and tragedy, but I found the scenes of everyday life less interesting. My experience with this book reminds me of The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – another case where it is obvious the writer’s skill has improved (since writing Middlesex in this example), but with the increase in polish and literary depth comes less excitement.
I’m probably being overly harsh, because I was expecting so much. The writing in this book is fantastic and there is a lot to love; it just didn’t become a favourite in the way I hoped it might. Recommended to people who enjoy character driven novels.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…one of the best books I’ve read this year. Slightly Bookist
Americanah is about a lot of things, and so it eventually turns out to be about nothing in particular. Amymuses’s blog
Interesting, not compelling Ready When you Are, CB