With two highly successful novels under her belt, it is perhaps unsurprising that with her third novel, Americanah, Chimamanda Adichie has scored a hattrick. Adichie is adept at speaking to her readers through authentically created characters, weaving a tale that captivates, from the first chapter till the very last sentence.
Adichie beautifully captures current trends in the average African country where migration to distant shores seems to be everyone’s dream. The story begins when two high school teenagers fall in love and, although focused on their present relationship, dream of educational and professional success while dealing with the frustrations of unstable educational systems and unpredictable economic conditions.
Ifemelu, the story’s main female character, is an unlikely candidate for a life in the West, having come from a poor background. As fate would have it, she makes the first venture to the United States, leaving her lover Obinze behind.
On arrival at America, a country previously hyped up by her classmates, Ifemelu is shocked to discover how bland and somewhat dismal life there is, especially because she initially lives with her aunt in a poor neighborhood in New York. Her every experience of America is relayed onto Obinze who, on the other side of the world, is always eager to hear about a country he idolizes from a girl he adores.
In time, Obinze makes his way to the United Kingdom, by which time his relationship with Ifemelu is fractured. Living in two continents, both of them arrive at new understandings of racism, loneliness and rejection in their quest for better fortunes.
In Americanah, Adichie presents such heavy topics as race with simplicity, allowing for a greater understanding of identity. Readers are given insight as to how social issues like race are manifested in both Western countries. The public is invited to a discussion on Friday on the various themes present in this intriguing work.