Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)
“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, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”
Ifemelu grew up in Lagos, then moved to USA, the land of opportunities, when she got a scholarship and a visa. Her boyfriend of many years, Obinze, will join her once he is able to get a visa. But starting a new life in USA is hard, and especially when no one will hire you. When she is no longer able to pay rent she sees no other way out than take the position she was offered as a personal relaxer, which turned out to be the almost the same as selling her body. Loathing herself, she breaks off all contact with Obinze and sinks into a depression.
But USA is really the land of opportunity, and she is lucky to find a job as a baby sitter for a fantastic family. She has also started an anonymous blog about being a Non-American Black and all the discrimination and racism that still are very present in USA. The blog takes off, the studies are going well and she meets some amazing people. And then one day, out of the blue, she makes the decision to go back home to Lagos.
A candidate for the book of the year? At least I think so. I loved every sentence of the book and Ifemelu is such an amazing character. I loved how I got utterly lost in her world and it was so easy to picture the scenes. It is also an important book as it deals with the issues of identity and race, while painting a new and a more positive picture of Nigeria. Which is necessary, because when did you last hear something positive about Nigerians and Nigeria?
It is definitely the best book by Chimamanda so far. Read it!