Book Review: Americanah
Americanah is a beautifully written book about two characters Obinze and Ifemelu who learnt to understand race, immigartion and emigration in a fast moving world.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Nigeria at the time is under military dictatorship, and people are seeking to leave the country. Ifemelu moves to the United States to study, where she struggles for the first time with racism and the many varieties of racial distinctions: for the first time, Ifemelu discovers what it means to be a “Black Person”.Obinze had hoped to join her in the U.S. but he was denied a visa after 9/11. He goes to London, eventually becoming an undocumented immigrant after his visa expires. Years later, Obinze returns to Nigeria and becomes a wealthy man as a property developer in the newly democratic country. Ifemelu gains success in the United States, where she becomes known for her blog about race in America, entitled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black”. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, the two consider reviving a relationship in light of their diverging experiences and identities during their many years apart.

REVIEW BY DANIA: Americanah is a beautifully written book about two characters Obinze and Ifemelu who learnt to understand race, immigartion and emigration in a fast moving world. This book’s main criticism seems to be that at times the book appears to be pieces of rambling stitched together; however, this very thing makes this book personal and gives the reader a greater insight into the character’s mind. This is a very character driven book and the subtle humour in it and the flashbacks tie this book together to make a great story.

To Ifemelu, a girl who suddenly has to deal with the complexity of American society and being ‘black’ for the first time and being grouped together with African-Americans when in reality she shares almost no similar traits with them except that she is ‘black’, her hometown in Nigeria provides her a place to escape to. As she faces constant failures and cultural differences in America, it almost seems as if Ifemelu starts to idealise Nigeria and its supposed simplicity. As American life contrasts her life in Nigeria, her multiple failed relationships in America contrast her relationship with Obinze. The idea of Obinze that she has formed represents simplicity and a relationship with no problems, more specifically problems that she has caused. However in her American relationships, she almost always seems to mess up and be the immediate cause of their ruination. Her flashbacks to her relationship with Obinze always reflect this as the fights they have are non-existent or simple disagreements at times. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, she realises that life has become complicated there too, it can no longer be an escape. Though what she fails to realise is that it’s not that Nigeria has drastically changed, she is the one that has changed. Even when she starts her relationship with Obinze again and they seem to have more problems, it’s that the ideal relationship doesn’t exist anymore, it’s no longer just a fantasy. So when she accepts Obinze, she also accepts her internal change.

Won the 2013 U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

1. Forced sex work
2. Sexual assault
3. Anti-Black racism
4. Anti-Semitism
5. Suicide
6. Infidelity

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