Americanah

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I’ve  been pestering my friend Abi to write a guest post.  To “class up the joint for me”, were the words i used.   She is, literary wise, what I might have been were I not so addicted to ratchetry and meme speak. But we are who we are 🙂
What I really wanted her to do was a book review, starting  with Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie.
It took me four months to finish the book. Not because i’m a slow reader, (I devour a book within a day if uninterrupted), and not because it was a tedious read ( it is vivid, poignant and beautiful). No, it took me so long to finish because i saw so much of my own life in her words that i kept getting dangerously emotional. I finally finished it at 3am this morning, and wrote the first thing that came to mind…….

Emotional. I’ve always found it to be a curious turn of phrase. Saying something, and yet saying nothing at all. But here I am, using it.. because I cannot articulate properly how jarring, and yet comforting it is to see how much someone that you’ve never met also GETS IT.

That feeling of not quite-ness. Of having spent a decade trying to sync your rhythm to American ( or British etc) life, but knowing you will forever be not quite American. Then, upon taking the bold leap to return to your country of origin (Ghana for me), to realize in horror that you are not quite Ghanaian anymore either. People,especially the best friends you left behind can sense it,  and creates a subtle barrier to regaining the entirety of that closeness.

The queasiness and discomfort when first presented with your blackness. I was black, but also not quite black. ( More than one person actually said this to me. “But Mizz, you’re not really black.They were all Caucasian.)
I told my freshman preceptorial class that I never knew I was black until I came to America. They laughed, but I was dead serious. I’d never been ‘the black girl’ before. And once i was, i wasn’t allowed to forget. Did people chose not to sit next to me on the bus because of my color? Or something else? I hated it.  When i’d be called upon in class, as the sole person of color, and hence custodian of an entire race, to give my perspective on an issue, it went unchallenged. Never-mind the fact that I actually knew nothing of what it meant to black in America. The culture, the struggle, the history.
In-fact there was constant friction between the black students and the African students. They thought we were all stuck up and bougie, and we thought that they were too… something. Too much of everything, i suppose.
And its all here, captured in a way that I never could have done.

But what affected me the most was the relationship between the two characters at the heart of the story. It dredged up memories that I have spend almost two decades laboriously burying. What it feels like to have loved someone with such an intensity, a totality, that it is impossible to ever completely let that person go. And when I got to the end, and realized that our stories differ in that theirs ended with the promise of rekindling, I turned off all the lights, lay in the dark and felt jealous, and sad, and angry at myself for feeling anything at all.
And then I picked up my phone and contacted HIM. I shouldn’t have, it wasn’t appropriate, but I couldn’t help it.
That is how good this book is.  You will see yourself, your friends, your lovers, your deepest thoughts. And you might get yourself in trouble by reaching into the past and stirring things.

So if you haven’t already, go read this book!
I will get back to pressuring Abi, so she can write the actual, proper review this amazing book deserves.

Till next time xx

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5 responses to “Americanah

  1. Fii, your recommendation alone tells how vivid the story is. Kekeli tore the cover of mine because i stopped paying him attention while reading this book. I wonder if there’s any African that has lived the life of a “black person”in America will not recognize themselves or even their friends and words in this book. Priscy and I laughed over her comment on the carribean accent being lyrical cos its something we’ve always mentioned.

    It’s purely eccentric and amazing!! A very easy read but thought provoking. I wish liberal arts colleges will adopt it as a text book for their freshmen.

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    • Jaci you have me rolling! Kekeli was jealous of a book 🙂
      And that one sentence is all the endorsement the book will ever need. Its so good “your toddler will hate it and try to sabotage it” lol
      Of the many many astute observations in the book, i think my favorite was the ‘African who hasn’t quite perfected their English, but now live in a foreign country, where they are mixing their foreign accent with their broken grammar’ !

      Like

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  3. Fantastic writing Fiona, I was all in…
    “conversating” with you as I read ( that’s how you know someone’s writing is good)
    Especially the part about the book unearthing memories and emotions you’d rather not revisit. Good Literature will do that to you girl ! Now I’m scared to read the book……

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    • Thanks Zaza!
      lol @ conversating along.. like black folks watching a madea movie in the cinema.. pleeeenty unnecessary sound effects and commentary..lol

      But dont be scurred! Read it.. its worth the bittersweet agony 🙂

      Like

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