This is my second Chimamanda book and I must say that I am now, big time (hugest huge time) in love with her, especially her writing(s), her stories and with her terrific characters. And again, a big thanks to a Friend for the generosity who gifted me this book but wants to remain unnamed :). Cheers to you. I so much want to visit Afghanistan after reading Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” because the way he has shown his country is simply amazing. Exactly the same way, after reading two Chimamanda books back to back, Nigeria is my current dream destination :). I read it in one of the review on her books by someone who claimed that Chimamanda carves out her characters in stories in a way that you just can’t hate any of them. While reading “Americanah” I actually kept an eye on almost all the characters and Bingo!! It is so superbly said, I realized, almost all her characters are so simply written that I was actually in love with all of them at one point or the other. That’s totally magical at least in Fiction. Although I must say this, as we readers keep comparing the works :), this one doesn’t come any closer to her first book “Purple Hibiscus” which still remains my favorite Chimamanda book for sure. Americanah is great but not as fantastic as Purple Hibiscus or may be because that was the first book that I read and it made a certain impression and raised the bar of expectations from her which this one doesn’t fulfill but works on a lot of counts. Her point of view on Racism (in America) is simply mind-blowing, I really wondered while going through the book as how an American will take this one? May be I will recommend it to a few of my American friends and see what they have to say about it.
Americanah is the story of two friends (amazing) Ifemelu and (terrific) Obinze. Childhood friends from Nigeria, who grow up together but later get separated. She goes to America to make something out of her life as she is the only one who gets a proper opportunity to do that. You’ve got to read the book to see how others struggle to cross the border but couldn’t do it, their stories are so similar to ours that it reminded me of my own first US Visa rejection 🙂 way back in early 2000 and the reason for rejection is simply hilarious but so damn true. How she stays in US, becomes an American, struggles for survival, survives, succeeds yet her heart remains in Nigeria where she wants to return even after being in USA for a decade or more is the rest of the story. Parallel track of her friend Obinze too is simply amazing, his journey from rags to riches and back to square one was so smooth, touching, heartening that I totally fell in love with the amazing guy. And exactly like Khaled Hosseini does in his “Kite Runner”, Chimamanda too did it in the last line of the book, put a big huge smile on my face by that superb ending. The entire story written from the perspective of an immigrant is so true and realistic that I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. After working in an American Consulting firm for two decades, I have seen these stories in real life, day in day out. Struggle for Visa, after that Career, money, building up a life, losing it again, at times deportation from the country, humiliation, the pain, a life of a criminal and so much more. Once I am done with all of her books, I would really look forward to some research on the Author to know how she researched everything, this just cannot be plain Fiction.
There is so much to talk about the book and the story that I can go on and on like I do that all the time in my posts :). I totally loved the way and why the protagonist is called “Americanah” and the title, you’ve got to read the book to know the reason. Also, every-time Ifemelu’s braids are mentioned, for some reason I kept visualizing the face of Academy Award Winning actress Lupita Nyong’o 🙂 with those thick braids and awesome looks. Heart touching was the scene and the reason why she breaks up from her boy friend for life, I so much prayed and wished that the Author will make them meet by the end of the book. Like it is the case for all of us, who stay away and distant from all of our home towns craving to go back given an opportunity, the feelings the story arouses were so genuine and life like that it is very hard for me to explain how I felt when she talks about leaving everything and going back to Nigeria. I will say Americanah is one of the most brutally honest books that I have read in a long long time and that too Fiction. And it is totally life like, not one percent exaggeration, life as it is. Author’s love for books and music is so much evident from the story that both of her leads are not only voracious readers and into music too but Ifemelu loves “Graham Greene” big time. Now I know what I am reading as my next book in very near future for sure :).
Have you read Americanah? Do let me know if you loved it the way I did and if you haven’t read it, you’ve got to read this one without fail.