Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Am I Reading This Morning?

So glad you asked me! I am reading Americanah by the fabulous Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is all about race and the immigrant experience. The setting is Nigeria, the USA (New Jersey, Philadelphia, Maryland) and England. The main characters are from Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze, and this is about their fascinating and terrifying experiences as immigrants to USA and England respectively. Ifemelu seems to be the kind of woman who sabotages herself in her romantic relationships by constantly searching for a love that is beyond her reach.  Obinze is also sabotaging himself romantically by holding on to his love for Ifemelu.  She dropped him without giving him any explanation.

There are several sub-themes in this novel. Black women's love/hate relationship with their hair is one  sub-theme. Interracial relationships is another. The effects of acculturation is yet another.  What I love about the book is how accurately the writer described the black immigrant trying to navigate different aspects of American and British life - the language, race issues, job market, food, dating/friendships. I also liked that the two Nigerian characters and their friends had different backgrounds. Obinze had a privileged upbringing as son of a university professor.  Ifemelu's family was struggling. She had never traveled like some of her classmates. Her father lost his job and had to borrow money to pay the bills. Also, I enjoyed reading the writer's description of corruption in Nigeria and the uncertainties of studying in a university in Nigeria where the professors were constantly on strike for improved wages.

I am on page 293 and I am wondering if Obinze and Ifemelu will find love in each other again.  I am also wondering if Ifemelu will be able to fit into Nigerian life when she returns.

Here is what the author had to say about her book on NPR.    She's correct for a black non-American, "you have to learn what it means to be black in America."

As I read about life in Nigeria, let me also bring awareness to twitter campaigns #BringBackOurGirls and #BringBackOurDaughters on this Mother's Day.