Americanah.

Author:Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
Position:Book review

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who grew up in Nigeria and divides her time between her homeland and the United States, is the author of the award-winning novels Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (***** SELECTION Nov/Dec 2006), as well as the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck (**** SELECTION Sept/Oct 2009). She is also a recipient of a MacArthur "genius grant" for her tales of African families trying to survive social and political turmoil.

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THE STORY: In a Nigeria crumbling under military rule, high school students Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Although it is Obinze who is besotted with American culture, it is the beautiful Ifemelu who is lucky enough to escape to America on a student visa, where, after taking a humiliating job, she eventually wins a fellowship at Princeton and becomes the writer for a successful, eye-opening blog, "Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." The smart, thoughtful Obinze, however, cannot get a visa to post-9/11 America and instead takes a very different path, as an undocumented refugee in London. When they both return to a democratic Nigeria years later, they both must make difficult choices about their futures.

Knopf. 496 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780307271082

Globe and Mail (Canada) *****

"[A] masterful new novel by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who demonstrates an MRI-like insight into the subtleties and hidden machinations of class and race--the unspeakable antimatter of North American life. ... It's a book that leaves you feeling grateful that even though in America 'you're supposed to pretend that you don't notice certain things,' Adichie is just too perceptive and brave not to." MICHAEL CHRISTIE

NPR *****

"Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a big knockout of a novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color. ... Americanah is a sweeping story that derives its power as much from Adichie's witty and fluid writing style as it does from keen social commentary." MAUREEN CORRIGAN

San Francisco Chronicle *****

"Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's dazzling and thought-provoking new novel, Americanah, is a wonder: It begins with a Nigerian immigrant waiting to board a train from Princeton to Trenton to have her hair braided, and opens out into a much larger story that ranges over decades...

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