Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Chimamanda and Americanah

I’m reading Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 novel that was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year. I’m reading it for the second time and loving it even more than the first!  

The book

The book


Ifemelu, the main character, is a Nigerian woman who came to the U.S. to complete college and stays for 15 years before returning home to Lagos, Nigeria. The story is gripping. Adichie’s prose flows beautifully and seems effortless, though I know it’s not.

The top five reasons why I love Americanah:

Number 5: I am completely familiar with the Igbo people, so I feel at home as I read. Even though I am an American white woman, my husband of nearly 50 years is Igbo and I lived in Nigeria for twenty four years. My memoir, coming out soon, is the story of those twenty four years.

Number 4: I know all the locations in Lagos where part of the book takes place. I even know New Haven, one of the locations in the U.S.

Number 3: I feel strongly about racial justice. The main character Ifemelu blogs about race in the United States, and her observations ring true for me. My bi-racial children have had many of the experiences of non-American Blacks that Ifemelu blogs about.

Number 2: The story has extremely well-drawn characters. As one of the women in my book group said, “I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters when the book ended.”

Number 1: Americanah held my attention both times that I read it. From the first page to the last, I was pulled into the action. There were family situations, boyfriends, school, jobs, and the hair salon. The tension built until the very end.

And I have a family connection. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Have you read Americanah? Or one of Adichie’s earlier books? Have you read other African women authors? I’d love to know!

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.