As teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love in a Nigeria under military dictatorship. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America, where Obinze hopes to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
©2013 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (P)2013 W.F. Howes
"Andoh's rich voice and distinct characters and rhythm keep the listener engrossed.... Andoh has fun adopting a mocking lilt for Ifemelu's snarky blog entries.... [and] a more serious tone brings authenticity to the heartbreak of Obinze's London experience." (AudioFile)
I heard an author's interview on NPR about this book, and I immediately knew I wanted to read it. I downloaded the Audible version, and was delighted immediately by the narration by Adjoa Andoh. The book carried me into the romance of a young couple who are separated by circumstance and opportunity, and are later reunited by chance and perhaps the inevitability of returning "home". What made me love this book is the main character, Ifamelu, an academician, a romantic (at heart) but also a realist. While experiencing life in America, Ifamelu challenges what other Americans, and Black Americans especially think about "Black women" and "Africans" generally. I loved her fictional blog, Raceteenth, and I wish it were real frankly. Her biting and acid criticism of race and perceptions of race among minorities was thought provoking, funny, and at times stunning. The main character's romances, her sexuality, and her reflection on love and companionship weaved together with the academic side of Ifamelu in a way that had me laughing and crying, and ultimately sad the book had to come to an end. I would liken reading Americanah to reading one my of other favorite novels, "Face of an Angel," by Denise Chavez. The intimacy you feel with the characters is unmatched, and when a book has you blushing about things you rarely will acknowledge, much less articulate to another, you know you have something special. Finally, I can't emphasize what a great narrator Andjoa Andoh is. About 80% of the books I listen to on Audible have boring or flat narrators, and so this narrator set Americanah on audio apart. The narrator took time to change her tone of voice, add inflection to separate the "sound" of characters male and female, American and non-American accented English, and to create a world of many different characters. I loved it, and I hope you will too. I look forward to more from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Face of Angel by Denise Chavez. This novel and Americanah have a lot of depth, and elve into intimacies that are sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary to understand the whole person.
She adjusted her voice to embody each character, and that was my favorite thing. She brought the characters to life, and her inflection carried the passion that I felt between the lovers in the story.
A yearning for home, an adventure apart
And it's so much more than a love story. Very intelligent, lyrical and insightful book about race relations and personal relations both within and without the United States. The Narrator was simply outstanding! Highly recommended.
The narrator brought alive the Americanah experience in a direct way that the written page would not have. She literally gave voice to the characters that enriched the narrative for me.
Words are chosen well and sentences were crafted. The book provided some interesting characters but many characters were created and discarded just to provide a point of view at a dinner party. It became hard to be interested in new characters as they were only devices to push a certain perspective. Overly long and the sweet kernel of the central story became lost.
Excellent at providing different voices to the whole long cast of characters.
No, this one went on too long.
I highly recommend as a visual but not an audio read. The narrator does a fine job when the story is in the 3rd person or when she is speaking as the protagonist, but all her male and other-female characters sound like pre-adolescent boys. After so many hours of cringing when the narrator "turned male", I downloaded the e-book to enjoy the remainder of the story.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
This was a beautifully written book, and I enjoyed the story. The author’s keen insights into issues of immigration and race and what it means to be black in America AND in Africa were really interesting. It was particularly interesting to read about Nigeria from the viewpoint of some very well educated people. The main problem I had with the book is that it was too didactic. The author was critical of whites, critical of blacks - Nigerians, and Americans. That’s ok, and a lot of it was interesting, BUT it just went on too long. All of the preaching bogged the book down. Much of it could have been edited out, and the powerful main points would still have had as much or more impact.
I can't imagine anyone could do all these accents! The reader did the African voices well, but the Americans - especially the men - sounded like Munchkins. And no American would say "Mary Land" for Maryland. I found that distracting.
Andichie's characters are well developed and believable. I found myself alternately identifying with Ifemelu and marveling at her bold sense of self that, while strong from the outset, develops further throughout the novel. I, too, fell in love with the Obinze's gentle, intelligent, upstanding character. Even minor characters are believable. Andichie is a master of using subtle description to give the reader a clear picture of the people in her story.
More importantly, I gained insights into the experiences of both Non-American and American Blacks that I would never have known. Through her characters Andichie made me experience the senseless pain of prejudice without being didactic. I learned things about America that I could never fully know as a white person, and I saw a version of Nigeria that is very different than what I had expected - my only knowledge of that country comes from the American media which portrays it as a dangerous, immoral, unstable place. I also enjoyed looking at American culture through the eyes of a non-American. I thought Andichie's "criticisms" of both American and African culture were well observed, valid in the case of the US, and occasionally funny.
I loved Andoh's voice when she spoke with a Nigerian accent. However, her imitations of Americans grated on me. I am irritated by verbal crutches such as the word "like", or the way many young people make statements into questions, which comes through in the writing, but Andoh voiced the American characters with a nasal twang that annoyed me. Additionally, there were some American place names, Maryland for example, that were mispronounced, and I found this disruptive to the narrative.
Before I end I want to add that I thought Adichie's use of language was beautiful. There were times during my listen where I was staggered by her lovely, yet subtle, use of metaphor. Her writing is gorgeous: clear and unselfconscious.
My favorite character was Obinze because I liked him so much. I would love to have him for a friend.
Ifemelu. I love the way Nigerians say, Uh uh, with the first uh on a higher note than the second.
I loved "Half a Yellow Sun" and was really looking forward to listening to "Americanah", but the narrator's different voices (particularly the American ones) were so screeching and nasally that I had to stop listening.
This book is really good. There are times the book felt like several blog posts or essays on African migrant experiences. This was overshadowed, however, by the rich interactions between the characters. The narrator did an excellent job with the accents and it made me smile to hear the familiar rhythms of different African accents. Anyone who has ever migrated to another country can really relate to the experiences of the main characters. Excellent story!
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