I’m almost done with Americanah, and it’s such a bittersweet feeling! I don’t even normally use that word but it the best way to describe my emotions right now. I’m literally stopping myself from reading to many pages because I don’t want to finish I am engulfed into Ifemelu’s life and I’m not ready to part ways. Today I got to the part where they fist use the word “americanah” so I finally understand the title of the Book. Don’t worry I wont give it away, I’ll just say you learn the meaning behind the title once Ifemelulands in Nigeria. I haven’t read a novel in so long, it feels super refreshing. Its kind of like social media from pictures, statuses and articles took over my brain and its ability to read an actual book. It feels really great to read and be part of a book!
Americanah pretty much fell onto mylap. A friend forwarded me an email with a link to a podcast of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discussing her writing, feminism and race. Of course I had heard of Chimamanda, she was featured in a Beyoncé song after all, plus I stalked her TEDtalks and watched a screening of Half of a Yellow Sun at Harvard University but for some reason I had not yet pickedup one her books! At the beginning of the discussion Chimamanda read an excerpt from her book and that’s when I fell in love. I was sitting on my yoga mat in the living room literally captivated, this never happens! Once thepodcast was over I look up at our bookshelf and almost immediately the title Americanah in bold red and blue was screaming at me. I was surprised that we had the book and began reading that night.
Some where in the beginning of the book Ifemelu, the main character, goes to an African Hair Braiding Shop and I swear I was completely drawn in! The similarities between me and this other young black woman immigrant (first or second generation) going to get her braided were so relatable. Ifemelu’s hair appointment consisted of conversations about US. Visas/citizenship, loving a brotha from another African country and or “tribe”, going back to live in the motherland, being immersed diaspora versus still being “African.” And I thought Chimamanda got it. She gets me.
A part of the book that will always stick with me is when Ifemelu creates her blog Raceteenth or Curious Observations by a Non-American Black on the subject of Blackness in America shortly after breaking up with her white boyfriend Curt. He was someone so close to but lacked a complete understanding of her and her non-American Black experience. What I love most about this part of the book though is that she dared to take that step and post her thoughts, as vulnerable, unearthing and digging as they were. She may have hesitated in the beginning with her first post, “A few hours later, she checked her blog stats. Nine people had read it. Panicked, she took down the post. The next day, she put it up again, modified and edited it, ending it with words she still so easily remembered. (p289)” I get that feeling. I’ve had that feeling and maybe you have too. Nonetheless she took the risk and ran with it!
So I’m no writer. I am sure there are tons of grammatical errors blah blah blah but this book and a series of life events have pushed me to open up and express more lately. So if you’ve read this post thank you!! Click on the link above or below and listen to the podcast, you will not regret it! Yes I’m giving you two ways to access the podcast. I also hope you choose to read the book.
I don’t know what direction this means Werknesh is going in but what I do know is that Chimamanda and Ifemelu are certaintyGOLDEN WOMEN and this must be recognized and appreciated!
Listen To Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie And Zadie Smith Discuss Writing, Feminism, And Race