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Falling in Love with an Americanah

“Now I’m falling in love all over and over again.” Onyeka Onwenu, Falling in Love


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I’m listening to Onyeka Onwenu’s Legend Reloaded right now. She’s a popular Nigerian singer and actress (and much more) who gets name-checked in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. I’d never heard of her before which is probably a sign of my American-ness. Characters in the book—as well as real people discussing Beyoncė’s Grown Woman track—roll their eyes at the rest of the world’s seeming inability to get beyond Fela Kuti and 70s era Nigerian funk and soul and see the progression and complexity of modern popular culture in the country.

Beyond the relationship between the two main characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, which is a compelling one, what I was most appreciative of is this constant reminder of how ignorant I am of Africa and it’s many varied peoples and countries. I’m humbled by this. While reading, I felt far less cosmopolitan than many of these fictional folks.

If you’ve read any recent best of book lists, you know this is one of the most beloved novels of 2013. So I’m not going to review it. It’s very enjoyable. I could spend a whole ‘nother novel with the character of Dike who, if this was a movie, steals the show every time he appears.

I will note that this is the first physical novel I’ve read in a good long while. Most of my physical books these days are graphic novels. I retained more—at least of the emotional impact—reading this way. That tactile connection is powerful. I did miss being able to quickly highlight sections of the book and be able to go back and review them online. My scribbled down notes aren’t cutting it and so you’ll find no quotes on my tumblr or referenced here because I’m not sure of their accuracy.

This was my first Adichie book. 

It won’t be my last.

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