Book 17

So, yeah, as per the last post I will do away with the clearly inaccurate “a-week” part of the post.  Instead, I will just post about books I have read.  Next up: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I loved, loved, loved this book.  I read most of it while visiting a friend in San Diego, and I read it a bit before bed each night.  I had e-checked it out from our local library, and it was going to expire (because I took a while getting started with it).  So I had to kind of rush through, especially at the end.

This felt like one of those “just for me” kinds of books, because it had lots of things that I relate to and that I love: portrayals of academia, women in academia, women in academia who feel like maybe they don’t quite belong there.  But there was also, obviously, a whole huge piece of the book that was completely new to me and that I knew nothing about, namely the Nigerian immigrant experience and all of the stuff that actually happens in Nigeria.  So it was this wonderful blend of complete familiarity and complete strangeness, and I just loved every second of it.

I actually kept track of books and authors mentioned by the characters in Americanah, intending to go back and read some of the.  Like almost all Americans, I have a pretty serious blind spot when it comes to reading authors form other races and other countries.

Most of my high school reading lists were firmly in the American & European classics realm.  Oh, and Greek mythology.  But nothing from Africa or the East.  We did read Ralph Ellison, so I guess one black author.  (And, god, do I still remember Invisible Man so vividly even 30 years later.  Again, so different from my experience and I learned so, so much!)  In college, I took courses in “American short story,” “Shakespeare,” and “Irish literature.”  So not a lot of stretching out of my comfort zone there.

Lately, I have picked up the standards (Zora Neal Hurston, Amy Tan, Haruki Murakami, Naguib Mahfouz).  And when it was all the rage, I read “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”  (Before e-readers, what you were reading was plain to everyone around, if you were an in-public reader like me.  Whenever I was reading a Terry McMillan book, black women would interrupt me to tell me what a great book it was.  This was in Boston, where no one talks to strangers.  And where it’s pretty racially segregated, so the only black women (or me) I talked to were ones I knew from work on the gym.  But somehow reading those books broke down these natural barriers in a weird way.

Anyway, an embarrassingly large percentage of my reading is still firmly from white American / European writers (though I do probably read more women authors than most).  I hope this list of authors from Americanah breaks me out of that rut, at least a little bit.

I’ve heard that a movie is in the works.  This is such a long, sweeping book with so many distinct storylines: Ifemelu’s story when she first gets to America, and how she eventually becomes a superstar blogger and academic… that’s one whole movie right there.  Obinze’s tale of woe in England, ending with deportation and then astonishing success back in Nigeria… another whole movie.  And then the tale of them as a couple, in love in high school, the family dynamics, separating because of the political problems and protests making it impossible to get an education in Nigeria, living apart for so long, and then the strange way in which they meet and reconnect in Nigeria… a whole other movie.  How in the world will this be one film?  I can’t imagine.

But I’ve also heard rumors of Idris Elba as Obinze.  So all doubts aside.  I WILL SEE THIS MOVIE TAKE MY MONEY NOW.

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