Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Americanah

Picked this book as a recommendation from my sister in law. And I have a new favorite author. Chimamanda Ngozie  Adiche  has a way with words. She writes like Arundhati Roy and is puts mundane facts in iridescent spotlight like Jhumpa Lahiri. I loved the way she brought to life very normal, generic emotions. 

The book is about a Nigerian girl Ifemelu. Like most Nigerians she too dreams of making it big someday. And big is equal to America. As with most developed countries, one is happening if one makes it to the hallowed shores of the United States. Life brings her to the US and she realises that she is black! At this point the novel turns into one about race. At this is the point u regret. I felt here Ifemelu left the pages and in came Chimamanda. The characters Ifemelu begins writing about race and how to deal with it. But to me it seemed like a long discourse by Chimamanda. The novel picks up again when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria and sees everything with americanised eyes. 

The book is a must read. For
To enjoy the beautiful writing, to get some eye opening and candid opinion and to relish the similarly across developing nations. I would not do justice without quoting some lovely lines....

How easy it was to lie to strangers the versions of our lives that we have imagined.

She was taking two sides at once, to please everyone; she always chose peace over truth, was always eager to conform. 

He had spent too much time mourning what could have been and questioning what should be.

(The following lines are about Ifemelu's father )
He had scolded Ifemelu as a child for being recalcitrant , mutinous, intransigent, words that made her little actions seem epic and almost pride worthy. But his mannered English bothered her as she got older, because it was costume, his shield against insecurity . He was haunted by what he did not have - a post graduate degree, an upper middle class life - and so his affected words became his armour. 

Ifemelu watched them, so alike in their looks , and both unhappy people. But Kimberly's unhappiness was inward , unacknowledged, shielded by her desire for things to be as they should , and also by hope: she believed in other people's happiness because it meant she , too, might one day have it. Laura's unhappiness was differ t, spiky, she wished that everyone around her were unhappy because she had convinced herself that she would always be. 

The point of diversity workshops , or multicultural talks was not to inspire any real change but to leave people feeling good about themselves. They did not want the. Intent of her ideas;they merely wanted the gesture of her presence.

There was a manic optimism that he noticed in many people who had moved back from America in the past few years, a head-bobbing, ever-smiling , over-enthusiastic kind of manic optimism that bored him, because it was like a cartoon, without texture or depth. 

But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward-looking,  we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West, their best is already past and so they have a fetish of that past. 


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