My pick for Popsugar’s 2019 Reading Challenge prompt #32, a book written by an author from Asia, Africa or South America, was Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I had heard many good things about this book and added it to my TBR list. I chose the audio edition, narrated by Adjoa Andoh.
On the surface, this is a love story between Ifemelu and Obinze. But it is also the story of immigration in a post-9/11 world. Both Ifemelu and Obinze attempt to leave Nigeria, seeking better lives elsewhere. Ifemelu ends up in America, but Obinze is unable to follow her.
Following an incident shortly after her arrival in the US, Ifemelu breaks off contact with Obinze. The story then follows her experiences in America, both good and bad. Eventually, the book takes us back to Obinze and we learn that he, unable to find a way directly to America, makes his way to England instead.
Ifemelu and Obinze both experience the hardships of immigration. Neither have official papers, and go through all dangerous situations as a result. Ultimately, both end up going back to Nigeria, voluntarily or otherwise.
The story wanders back and forth a little bit, first moving time in a normal pattern, then jumping ahead to Ifemelu preparing to return home. These bits are written in a reminiscing style, with Ifemelu recalling the different steps that brought her to this decision to return to Nigeria.
Ultimately, this is a fascinating look at the world through the cultural dichotomy of First World and Third World interactions. It examines race in America from the perspective of an African immigrant. It takes the reader into the dark world of illegal immigration and what people are willing to do in order to improve their situation.
I found the time jumping a little bit hard to follow, maybe because I chose the audio version. But this book is well written and contains some truly beautiful ideas.