Escaping the military dictatorship of Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze aspire, as many of their generation did, to a life in the West. For Obinze it is an illegal existence in London while for Ifemelu, Princeton beckons. But neither place is the promised land and each must grapple with the challenges of race and status before they return home.
Set in Nigeria, Britain and America this is a thought-provoking novel boasting well-rounded characters, authentic settings, and an unashamed focus on the experience of being black. [Small font]
We all thought this book was the best we've read this year. Beautifully crafted, entertaining and evocative. Excellent discussion. [Rotorua 006]
A deep, insightful book from this talented Nigerian writer. We have enjoyed her other books and this was just as good. [Auckland 037]
Our group varied widely about this book. Three members loved it, three disliked it and the other three didn't finish it. It requires commitment. [Whangarei 008]
We all enjoyed this book - lively and interesting. It's a wonderful analysis of how ideas of race change according to where you live. We loved the way hair style is so integral to the novel. [Hamilton 029]
We had a good discussion about race. Some members commented on how small the font is. The story was a bit long, but most enjoyed the read. [Palmerston North 013]
It is certainly a substantial read and it is roughly in 3 parts: 1 Nigeria, 2: America, and 3: Nigeria. It is both an immigrant story and a love story and it veers from one to the other. Some found it a bit disjointed, but the main character is a bit disjointed in both her being and her life. In spite of myself I enjoyed reading this book. It has lots going for it in the characters, the scenarios, the unlikeliness of it all. At nearly 500 pages it requires a degree of commitment, Would I recommend it Dunno.
Universally enjoyed, although two people found they did not entirely like Ifem, the main character, finding her selfish and shallow. Others disagreed with that so we had a stirring conversation! Other aspects of the book we all liked were the issues over race, identity, love, politics and family. The blogs that form a significant element in the second half were felt to be a real strength and feature of the novel's success.
Everyone appreciated 'Americanah' - the light it threw on life for black communities in the US, UK and in Nigeria, of course; and the skill of the author whose writing was much admired. There was a tremendous discussion with the list of questions very useful, as were the page references. The issue of hair braiding was especially fascinating.
Everyone in the group enjoyed the book and agreed that it was a great achievement. The writing and use of English is excellent, with some enviable turns of phrase. The author displays a thorough knowledge of life in the U.S. and in great Britain, highlighting the treatment of immigrants, particularly of those who are undocumented... The one criticism discussed was that the book was too ambitious, in covering every aspect of the life of travelling Nigerians, and many many aspects of Nigerian life. This is just a small criticism because the novel was an enjoyable and compelling read.
Highly rated by all group members. Thoroughly enjoyed the clever writing style. Gave great insight into aspects of race and racism not previously considered. Possibly favourite book of the year.
Thought-provoking, but could have been shortened/edited more and still conveyed a powerful story.
Hard to get into - took perseverance. Great insight into racism in the UK and US, and corruption in Nigeria. Big discussion about African hair. A little long and little polemic at times. Great way of developing the concept of identity in context.
Thoroughly enjoyed. Thought-provoking and informative.
An outstanding read! The author's own experiences are no doubt the background to this insightful description of the degradation suffered by coloured people outside their own country. The parallels between USA and England were obvious, and probably in NZ too. Great discussion!
All enjoyed the well-drawn characters, insightful descriptions and comments on human nature. The style of writing was enjoyable. Provoked a lively and lengthy discussion.