A Short Review of Americanah


Most people who call themselves writers are also avid readers. Sometimes I oscillate between reading and writing; that is, some weeks I read and read and read, and other weeks I write more than read. Some weeks are a mix of both; that would be a ideal, I think.

I lived inside books a couple weeks ago. Some fairly heavy events had transpired, and my heart felt too heavy to write a cheerful post; there were deaths and news of more injustices committed by those in church leadership. Stuff like that just gets me down, and makes me want to escape into a good novel, so I dove into Americanah.

This is the first work I’ve ever read by Adichie, and her talent as a writer is evident and remarkable. There’s a lot going on in this book, but it’s beautifully interwoven. There’s discussion on African hair, Nigerian culture, British culture, and American culture, as well as insights into immigration, racism, and gender roles. All of this is bookended by a love story stretching across time and continents.

I loved the way Adichie paints her characters. I could picture each one quite vividly with ease. She writes with suspense, gracefully moving from one side of the narrative to the other, when Ifemelu and Obinze end up on different continents. She writes with keen insight, from the perspective of a Non-American Black, into the way (US)Americans view racism and immigration. She keeps the plot moving at a steady, not-too-slow, not-too-fast pace.

Since I’m not African or African-American, I don’t think I can comment on much of the content in the book except that Adichie’s perspectives provided me with much-needed enlightenment on cross-cultural issues and the evil systems of white privilege that permeate the US. Oh, and I adore how the book features strong women in the midst of patriarchical systems.

I only have one negative thing to say about Americanah: I think the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze was somewhat predictable and disappointing. It’s just my personal preference. Otherwise, I highly recommend this thoroughly engaging and educational piece of literature.