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Americanah by [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]
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Americanah Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 11,269 ratings

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Review

‘A brilliant novel: epic in scope, personal in resonance and with lots to say’ Elizabeth Day, Observer

‘A delicious, important novel from a writer with a great deal to say’ The Times

‘A brilliant exploration of being African in America … an urgent and important book, further evidence that its author is a real talent’ Sunday Telegraph

‘An extremely thoughtful, subtly provocative exploration of structural inequality, of different kinds of oppression, of gender roles, of the idea of home. Subtle, but not afraid to pull its punches’ Alex Clark, Guardian

‘A tour de force … The artistry with which Adichie keeps her story moving, while animating the complex anxieties in which the characters live and work, is hugely impressive’ Mail on Sunday

‘Adichie is terrific on human interactions … Adichie’s writing always has an elegant shimmer to it … Wise, entertaining and unendingly perceptive’ Independent on Sunday

‘Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently … This is a very funny, very warm and moving intergenerational epic that confirms Adiche’s virtuosity, boundless empathy and searing social acuity’ Dave Eggers

‘“An honest novel about race” … with guts and lustre … within the context of a well-crafted, compassionate, visceral and delicately funny tale of lasting high-school love and the sorrows and adventures of immigration’ Diana Evans, The Times

‘[A] long, satisfying novel of cross-continental relationships, exile and the pull of home … Adichie’s first novel for seven years and well worth the wait’ FT

‘Alert, alive and gripping’ Independent

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly. Philadelphia had the musty scent of history. New Haven smelled of neglect. Baltimore smelled of brine, and Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage. But Princeton had no smell. She liked taking deep breaths here. She liked watching the locals who drove with pointed courtesy and parked their latest model cars outside the organic grocery store on Nassau Street or outside the sushi restaurants or outside the ice cream shop that had fifty different flavors including red pepper or outside the post office where effusive staff bounded out to greet them at the entrance. She liked the campus, grave with knowledge, the Gothic buildings with their vine-laced walls, and the way everything transformed, in the half-light of night, into a ghostly scene. She liked, most of all, that in this place of affluent ease, she could pretend to be someone else, someone specially admitted into a hallowed American club, someone adorned with certainty.
 
But she did not like that she had to go to Trenton to braid her hair. It was unreasonable to expect a braiding salon in Princeton—the few black locals she had seen were so light-skinned and lank-haired she could not imagine them wearing braids—and yet as she waited at Princeton Junction station for the train, on an afternoon ablaze with heat, she wondered why there was no place where she could braid her hair. The chocolate bar in her handbag had melted. A few other people were waiting on the platform, all of them white and lean, in short, flimsy clothes. The man standing closest to her was eating an ice cream cone; she had always found it a little irresponsible, the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men, especially the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men in public. He turned to her and said, “About time,” when the train finally creaked in, with the familiarity strangers adopt with each other after sharing in the disappointment of a public service. She smiled at him. The graying hair on the back of his head was swept forward, a comical arrangement to disguise his bald spot. He had to be an academic, but not in the humanities or he would be more self-conscious. A firm science like chemistry, maybe. Before, she would have said, “I know,” that peculiar American expression that professed agreement rather than knowledge, and then she would have started a conversation with him, to see if he would say something she could use in her blog. People were flattered to be asked about themselves and if she said nothing after they spoke, it made them say more. They were conditioned to fill silences. If they asked what she did, she would say vaguely, “I write a lifestyle blog,” because saying “I write an anonymous blog called Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black” would make them uncomfortable. She had said it, though, a few times. Once to a dreadlocked white man who sat next to her on the train, his hair like old twine ropes that ended in a blond fuzz, his tattered shirt worn with enough piety to convince her that he was a social warrior and might make a good guest blogger. “Race is totally overhyped these days, black people need to get over themselves, it’s all about class now, the haves and the have-nots,” he told her evenly, and she used it as the opening sentence of a post titled “Not All Dreadlocked White American Guys Are Down.” Then there was the man from Ohio, who was squeezed next to her on a flight. A middle manager, she was sure, from his boxy suit and contrast collar. He wanted to know what she meant by “lifestyle blog,” and she told him, expecting him to become reserved, or to end the conversation by saying something defensively bland like “The only race that matters is the human race.” But he said, “Ever write about adoption? Nobody wants black babies in this country, and I don’t mean biracial, I mean black. Even the black families don’t want them.”
 
He told her that he and his wife had adopted a black child and their neighbors looked at them as though they had chosen to become martyrs for a dubious cause. Her blog post about him, “Badly-Dressed White Middle Managers from Ohio Are Not Always What You Think,” had received the highest number of comments for that month. She still wondered if he had read it. She hoped so. Often, she would sit in cafés, or airports, or train stations, watching strangers, imagining their lives, and wondering which of them were likely to have read her blog. Now her ex-blog. She had written the final post only days ago, trailed by two hundred and seventy-four comments so far. All those readers, growing month by month, linking and cross-posting, knowing so much more than she did; they had always frightened and exhilarated her. SapphicDerrida, one of the most frequent posters, wrote: I’m a bit surprised by how personally I am taking this. Good luck as you pursue the unnamed “life change” but please come back to the blogosphere soon. You’ve used your irreverent, hectoring, funny and thought-provoking voice to create a space for real conversations about an important subject. Readers like SapphicDerrida, who reeled off statistics and used words like “reify” in their comments, made Ifemelu nervous, eager to be fresh and to impress, so that she began, over time, to feel like a vulture hacking into the carcasses of people’s stories for something she could use. Sometimes making fragile links to race. Sometimes not believing herself. The more she wrote, the less sure she became. Each post scraped off yet one more scale of self until she felt naked and false.
 
The ice-cream-eating man sat beside her on the train and, to discourage conversation, she stared fixedly at a brown stain near her feet, a spilled frozen Frappuccino, until they arrived at Trenton. The platform was crowded with black people, many of them fat, in short, flimsy clothes. It still startled her, what a difference a few minutes of train travel made. During her first year in America, when she took New Jersey Transit to Penn Station and then the subway to visit Aunty Uju in Flatlands, she was struck by how mostly slim white people got off at the stops in Manhattan and, as the train went further into Brooklyn, the people left were mostly black and fat. She had not thought of them as “fat,” though. She had thought of them as “big,” because one of the first things her friend Ginika told her was that “fat” in America was a bad word, heaving with moral judgment like “stupid” or “bastard,” and not a mere description like “short” or “tall.” So she had banished “fat” from her vocabulary. But “fat” came back to her last winter, after almost thirteen years, when a man in line behind her at the supermarket muttered, “Fat people don’t need to be eating that shit,” as she paid for her giant bag of Tostitos. She glanced at him, surprised, mildly offended, and thought it a perfect blog post, how this stranger had decided she was fat. She would file the post under the tag “race, gender and body size.” But back home, as she stood and faced the mirror’s truth, she realized that she had ignored, for too long, the new tightness of her clothes, the rubbing together of her inner thighs, the softer, rounder parts of her that shook when she moved. She was fat.
 
She said the word “fat” slowly, funneling it back and forward, and thought about all the other things she had learned not to say aloud in America. She was fat. She was not curvy or big-boned; she was fat, it was the only word that felt true. And she had ignored, too, the cement in her soul. Her blog was doing well, with thousands of unique visitors each month, and she was earning good speaking fees, and she had a fellowship at Princeton and a relationship with Blaine—“You are the absolute love of my life,” he’d written in her last birthday card—and yet there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness and borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness. She scoured Nigerian websites, Nigerian profiles on Facebook, Nigerian blogs, and each click brought yet another story of a young person who had recently moved back home, clothed in American or British degrees, to start an investment company, a music production business, a fashion label, a magazine, a fast-food franchise. She looked at photographs of these men and women and felt the dull ache of loss, as though they had prised open her hand and taken something of hers. They were living her life. Nigeria became where she was supposed to be, the only place she could sink her roots in without the constant urge to tug them out and shake off the soil. And, of course, there was also Obinze. Her first love, her first lover, the only person with whom she had never felt the need to explain herself. He was now a husband and father, and they had not been in touch in years, yet she could not pretend that he was not a part of her homesickness, or that she did not often think of him, sifting through their past, looking for portents of what she could not name.
The rude stranger in the supermarket—who knew what problems he was wrestling with, haggard and thin-lipped as he was—had intended to offend her but had instead prodded her awake.
 
She began to ... --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B009QU9X44
  • Publisher : Fourth Estate; 0 edition (6 April 2013)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1357 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 610 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,269 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
11,269 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 22 February 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Writing within the writing was beautiful and that is what the book is about.
By Kitabi Keeda on 22 February 2019
Americanah is a love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. Americanah is also a discussion about race, kinky hair, immigration, society and its social relationships, and life in Africa.. well Nigeria.

The base story was good. Enough to keep you hooked. All the characters were real and interesting. But the writing within the writing was beautiful and that is what the book is about. I read that the story is based on the author’s own experiences when she encountered race in USA.

Ifemelu’s thoughts, as she encounters various situations in her homeland and in a foreign country; as she invents and re-invents herself via her blogs, as expressed by the writer are what make the book so much more than just a story. The same goes for the experiences described by Obinze.

The book talks about the difference between being black in Africa and being black elsewhere. The flow is quite seamless as the author takes us through different countries. It talks about very real situations of immigrant lifestyles and the changes that one goes through to try and fit in and the psychological upheavals it can cause. Everyone assumes that moving from a less developed country to a more developed one is a blessing and can only bring opportunities. But so many issues go unspoken. Adichie has not shied away from bringing them up.

A great read, fairly fast paced, thought provoking and well written. I would recommend this book for sure.
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Reviewed in India on 26 July 2018
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Reviewed in India on 15 December 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars Best book to know about life of people of color in America
By Aanchal Gupta on 15 December 2020
If you want to read about what it's like to go to America and settle there, this book is for you. The book is a bit long but it will have you rooting for the main characters, Ifemelu & Obinze (although Ifemelu's character has no depth, she is literally dissatisfied and always complaining). It tells about how black people suffer from race discrimination in America, no matter where they come from. This book also tells about how difficult life is for migrants in the England. At times saddening but the ending is what one might give a thumbs up.
I loved reading it. Will recommend everyone!
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Reviewed in India on 19 August 2015
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Reviewed in India on 6 December 2016
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Reviewed in India on 30 March 2019
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Reviewed in India on 19 May 2019
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Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 October 2020
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J. Ang
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite Our Differences
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 December 2016
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rachel irven
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 March 2019
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Jess S
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of everything
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 July 2020
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S. Sagawe
5.0 out of 5 stars A soulful, heartwarming, truthful look into the heart of Nigeria and a Nigerian!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 February 2018
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