A Rich Tapestry of Nigerian and American Life

Chimamanda Adichie, author of 2006's Half of a Yellow Sun, which took readers inside Nigeria's civil war, gives a voice to characters that many Westerners haven't heard in Americanah. The story follows childhood sweethearts Ifemulu and Obinze from their early years in Nigeria to their search for better lives in the U.S. and England. Ifemulu notices that students at her American college expect her to talk about ''the black experience,'' even though that would mean speaking on behalf of Jamaicans and African-Americans who have nothing in common with her. She argues with her Senegalese hairdresser about whether ''natural'' hair shows pride or laziness. She wonders if black women love Obama just because he married a dark-skinned woman. And she rants about these experiences on her blog, laying waste to political correctness, getting her friends to weigh in. Their opinions might surprise you. Your own might too — if this book doesn't make you rethink them!

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