Plot Summary: A young Nigerian woman travels to America, discovers race and blackness, and navigates a wide range of deep experiences that are intense and demanding.
What I most appreciated: The author digs into the various experiences of Africa and of America and of the lived experience of what it means to be “black.” It truly feels like a privilege to read a narrative so well-crafted and yet also so deeply informative, something that the author conveys through the characters and the story.
An important novel? Very. The discussions of race are open and raw, difficult for the characters and for the reader, but very timely in this so-called “post-racial, America.” In addition to the deep discussions of race, the author manages to speak to 21st century people navigating their lives in global and multicultural societies. Takes you into both the intellectual and emotional element.
Quote of note: “I discovered race in America and it fascinated me.” – Ifemelu, the main protagonist
Readability: A rewarding novel with intelligence, bite, and emotional depth, but appreciating the nuance demands some effort on the part of the reader.
What I appreciated, as a writer: The flashbacks and flashforwards can feel be a bit demanding, and the novel takes things slowly at times, to dig deep, but the author is intentional about this and as the reader starts to get toward the end, this technique make sense — it’s a tool for deepening the protagonists and intensifying the gravity around the circumstance that opened the book.
Notes on the Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a feminist and Nigerian-Americian, is someone exceptionally well-equipped for a work of such scope, and she used the full force of her talents as a writer in the service of deepening our understandings of race and our multicultural world.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Anchor Books, 2013