notes

Americanah: a nation & a novel

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Today’s holiday, the fourth of July, comes in its annual deliverance at the wake of such a monumental time in our society, politics, and history. President Trump is just as controversial as ever, climate change is affecting our polar caps, and above all else violence is increasing. If I were to pick two words to describe our nation’s current standing it would be: mud slide.

Yes, it’s easy to talk negative about America. We are notorious for anything fried and sloppy from our lunch menus to our accents, but especially in this day and age it’s even easier to forget what we should carry with pride.

A few days ago, I finished Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel about the journeys of two Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, their curiosities, and their attempts to join friends and family in America. Arriving in America, Ifemelu is greeted by race for the first time and discovers the trials set forth by its social construct. She documented her findings on a blog. From a foreign point of view, she made observations of the caste systems and criticized the country for its people, both black and white.

After reading, I know I can never understand what it is like to be in anyone’s skin other than my own, but I want to thank the author for her ability to create empathy and soften the mindset of readers and Americans who have never had the opportunity to see our country and its impurities through the eyes of an immigrant.

There are things to be embarrassed of, and there are things that deserve greater appreciation. I only hope that in a time like today’s we can take advantage of authors like Adichie who tell the honest story of what we so often overlook in our own home.

Happy fourth,

RR

For your convenience, here are some books and authors that may spark your interest on the topic:

  1. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
  2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  3. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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