After I finished Americanah, I wanted to write about it. But I didn't think my usual book review outlook was what I wanted to do for this book - after all, it is something I read just because I felt like it, and I feel that I would be a little lost as to how to approach it in my usual way.
Instead of reviewing the book and giving you an overall score (you can check my goodreads profile if you really want to know) and trying to break the book down into my thoughts on plot, character design, and overall impression, I just wanted to talk a little about what this book made me think about.
First of all, there is no doubt that Adichie is an excellent writer - she has had the recognition of an Orange Prize (now known as a Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction) for her book 'Half of a Yellow Sun', and the writing within Americanah is hard to describe. Somehow it manages to draw me in and keep me reading when I start, but if I am not currently reading the book, I can't help but think of her writing as intense and multi-layered. To try to explain myself a little further - when I was reading this book, I didn't want to put it down. When I wasn't reading this book, I sometimes had trouble convincing myself to pick it up. If you haven't had this experience with a book, perhaps ignore my ramblings until you do.
The main theme that runs through this book is that of race - how it is noticed, perpetuated, whether it exists in places like Nigeria, and why it exists in America. What it means to the individual, and to specific groups. Adichie manages to take on this subject with quiet determination - she draws attention to it and discusses it through her characters, but it never felt absolutely confronting for me. It did get me thinking about the implications of race in Australia and how I am vastly privileged as a white female. I thought about it, and I had some rather intense discussions about it with people I know because of this book, but I almost felt like Adichie was in the room, mediating and facilitating the discussion.
I hesitate to recommend this book to everyone as, while I enjoyed it and want to read more of Adichie's work, I am not sure that others would have the same experience that I did. Regardless, I think it is worth a look - food for thought.