I read Chimamanda’s book in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, and during the period when the world was chanting for ‘Justice for George Floyd’, after the African American was killed by the police.
The author had taken to her social media page to do a book reading of portions of the book. I kept anticipating when I could get my own copy to read.
Eventually, I got the book and I started reading. Book club was just around the corner and it was my turn to suggest a book for our next meeting.
“What perfect timing”, I thought to myself. Obviously, I suggested that we read the book, ‘Americanah’. All the other members were keen on reading it too. And so viola! I started Chapter One.
The book spoke about a lot more things than racism. For example, it discussed love, family, friendship, religion and spirituality, gender, and sex, among others.
It was excellent at distinguishing between African Americans and Non-American Black. Chimamanda told the story so well that every aspect of life was touched on in the narrative.
I kept smiling throughout my readings. “Ceiling” for instance, referred to Ifem’s boyfriend Obinze, who embraced the name so calmly without a fight after the couple’s first sexual encounter.
On spirituality, the author narrates how the characters appeased their gods and deities. She used fasting, hair shaving, cladding in white clothing and singing of praises and hymns, to depict how spiritual, and to some extent, religious people behaved towards religion.
Chimamanda adopts an easy and relaxed tone in her writing. She borrows her native language when she must, and uses humor to keep the reader hooked to the pages. For once, I kept reading close to 15 pages per day and never wanting to put the book down.
The narration of events set the tone for suspense and intrigue. Her conversations with the characters were so relatable making it easy for any young person to enact and play events in their minds.
Each scene was set in a plot which was easily identifiable in any location one finds him or herself. For instance, I need not be in the USA to understand some of the scenarios that the story created in its reader’s mind.
Her university days, her time with Aunt Uju, her relationship with Curt, her travels on the train, her return to Lagos, among other things, were all set in the right scenes.
The book spoke a lot about how women transition from young, feeble and vulnerable girls into courageous adults who have the responsibility to turn their lives around.
It touched on male and female relationships and the real issues of gender disparities at various levels of life. It spoke about how race could be played to one’s advantage or disadvantage.
It also explains how race could be a phenomenon that the few privileged understood, while the majority struggle to live by its rules.
Chimamanda has carved a great niche for herself. I fell more in love with her after reading this masterpiece.