#BlackLoveBooks Challenge Day 5: Tough: a relationship that endured tough times
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of those novels that seems to appear on every “Best Of” list. Honors for the novel include National Book Critics Circle Award and being voted one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review in 2013. In 2017, it beat out four other titles to win One Book, One New York, which was kind of like a city-wide book club for residents of the five boroughs of New York.
After being apart for 15 years–Ifemelu in America and Obinze in London–the two former lovers reunite in their home country of Nigeria. Ifemelu left military-ruled Nigeria for America to continue her education, while Obinze, the love of her life finds himself in London after being barred from joining her in a post 9/11 USA. In their adopted homelands, both for the first time are forced to wrestle with race, and what it means to be an “other” (as in being black and a minority) while juggling studies, forming and keeping new relationships, and acclimating to new customs while holding on to their own.
Told in first person, the beautifully descriptive narrative reads as if it could be a real memoir. The reader feels like they are in Ifemelu’s as she gets her hair braided in a busy hair salon, samples new foods not native to her homeland or childhood, and other experiences of being a stranger in a new land.
I was resistant to reading Americanah. It’s a doorstopper for sure, and that’s always intimidating. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is still gathering dust on my bookshelf for that very reason. A friend insisted I read Americanah, going so far as lending me her personal copy. It was unsolicited action. We were meeting for dinner and she whipped it out of her purse telling me it was time I read it. It was in my possession for weeks. Once I cracked it open, I couldn’t stop. It’s one of those epic novels that you can’t wait to read what comes next and you become emotionally involved with the characters, even becoming upset with them at times. The book was so mesmerizing that I didn’t mind carrying its hefty weight on the subway, and was left wanting to continue my relationship with Ifemelu and Obinze as they resumed theirs.
This post is in correspondence with the Instagram #BlackLoveBooks Challenge by @booksandbrunchbookclub.