Americanah (Adichie) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Adichie...is an extraordinarily self-aware thinker and writer, possessing the ability to lambaste society without sneering or patronizing or polemicizing. For her, it seems no great feat to balance high-literary intentions with broad social critique. Americanah examines blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain, but it’s also a steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience—a platitude made fresh by the accuracy of Adichie’s observations.... Americanah is witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic.... It never feels false.
Mike Peed - New York Times Book Review


Adichie’s new novel takes root in the vagaries and murmured promises of a love story like much of her other work.... Her writing hits a nerve. [She] doesn’t hold back on criticizing [Nigeria’s] culture that fosters widespread government corruption. Or what she perceives as the excessive, neutered politeness of "political-correct language" in the U.S.
Jon Gambrell - Philadelphia Sunday Sun/Associated Press


Americanah is one of the freshest pieces of fiction of the year...and the fact that its subject isn’t instantly recognizable does not make it any less of an engrossing, all-encompassing read. Americanah is quite explicitly a book about race and African identity, but there are many moments when it transcends these themes. Adichie’s style of writing is familiar and personal, and her depiction of the African diaspora scathingly casts many of her main characters as a particularly loathsome type of East Coast intellectual. . . . Her success comes at the level of sentences, the way she can bring a character to life on the strength of a few words.... This book is absolutely essential.
Drew Grant - New York Observer
 

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.... Americanah works in so many different genres—coming-of-age novel, romance, comic novel of social manners, up-to-the-minute meditation on race, as well as the aforementioned immigrant saga—that I’m shortchanging its bounty by only mentioning some of the main characters’ adventures here. Like Ifemelu’s hairdo, Adichie’s novel tightly braids together multiple ideas and storylines. It’s a marvel of skilled construction and imagination.
Maureen Corrigan  - NPR
 

Powerful.... If you think racism expired when President Obama was elected, this is perhaps not—or absolutely is—the book for you. [Americanah] is a story of relocation, far-flung love and life as an alien, spread across three continents. It’s also about the lonely but privileged perspective a stranger gains by entering a new culture. Ifemelu experiences America both as a black woman and as an African woman. In the U.S., those two identities combine, for experiences dark and light that Adichie skillfully renders in gray scale.... Adichie’s evocative power, transporting my imagination while keeping my feet firmly on the ground, has me looking forward to [her] books for years to come.
Rosecrans Baldwin - NPR


Americanah is that rare thing in contemporary literary fiction: a lush, bighearted love story that also happens to be a piercingly funny social critique. . . . Adichie writes with insight. A scene in a braiding salon, which unfolds over the course of the book, has more to say about the politics of self-image than any novel in recent memory.... Both for Adichie and [Ifemelu], her alter ego, coming in to oneself is ultimately about coming home, and to the place that—and to the person who—understands you, no explanation required. And love remains the last great hope for solving America’s complicated relationship with race.... A love story for our time.”
Megan O’Grady, Vogue


Glorious...a saga of a young couple’s efforts to escape their troubled homeland and seek their fortune abroad that bears comparison to the classical canon of the social novel.... Americanah provides Adichie with a fictional vehicle for pithy, sharply sensible commentary on race and culture—and us with a symphonic, polyphonic, full-immersion opportunity to think outside the American box and commune with the wholly global sensibility of Adichie, an author who truly contains multitudes.
Ben Dickson, Elle


(Starred review.) Adichie['s]...compelling and important new novel follows the lives of that country’s postwar generation as they suffer endemic corruption and poverty under a military dictatorship. An unflinching but compassionate observer, Adichie writes a vibrant tale about love, betrayal, and destiny; about racism; and about a society in which honesty is extinct and cynicism is the national philosophy. She broadens her canvas to include both America and England, where she illuminates the precarious tightrope existence of culturally and racially displaced immigrants.... [A] touching love story and an illuminating portrait of a country still in political turmoil.
Publishers Weekly


MacArthur fellow Adichie is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love—and what it takes to become a "full human being.” —Donna Seaman
Booklist


(Starred review.) FIfemelu, the Nigerian expat and Princeton lecturer at the heart of this novel....writes biting, dead-on blog posts taking aim at the cultural schism between non-African blacks, Africans, and everyone else.... But one day...Ifemelu senses that she has lost her way.... Verdict: Witty, wry, and observant, Adichie is a marvelous storyteller who writes passionately about the difficulty of assimilation and the love that binds a man, a woman, and their homeland. Her work should be read by anyone clutching at the belief that we're living in a post-racial United States. —Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL
Library Journal


Ifemelu, beautiful and naturally aristocratic, has the good fortune to escape Nigeria during a time of military dictatorship.... Ifemelu's high school sweetheart, Obinze...has been denied a visa to enter post-9/11 America,...and now he is living illegally in London, delivering refrigerators and looking for a way to find his beloved.... The years pass, and Ifemelu is involved in the usual entanglements, making a reunion with Obinze all the more complicated. Will true love win out? Can things be fixed and contempt disarmed?... Soap-operatic in spots, but a fine adult love story with locations both exotic and familiar.
Kirkus Reviews




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