Are you ready to fall in love? Good, because when Beyoncé cosigns something, you’re guaranteed to fall head over diva heels for it. That’s right, for the fourth and rainiest month of all, we’re taking in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel, Americanah.
If you hadn’t heard of Adichie before her 2013 TEDx talk was featured on Bey’s surprise album, let's get you properly acquainted, shall we? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer most recently recognized for her sophomore novel, 2006's Half of a Yellow Sun — a deeply personal tale about bravery, perseverance and spirit during the Biafran War. Hollywood has also taken note, and the film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, will be released in select theaters this month.
Adichie is a fascinating thinker, a cleverly classic writer for her time, and a critical observer of culture during a moment when we seem to need it most. She's also dabbled in everything from pre-med to playwriting and has had her work translated into 30 different languages. (Then there was that whole Beyoncé thing.) In March, I saw that she was going to be discussing Americanah at the Tenement Museum with critically acclaimed book reviewer Kathryn Schulz. I was hungry to know more (or just wanted to be in her presence), so I went. In her review, Schulz writes, “It is a book about identity, nationality, race, difference, loneliness, aspiration, and love, not as distinct entities but in the complex, combinatorial relations they possess in real life.”
Though these things are all true, it’s so much more than that for Adichie. In addition to writing about “love and hair and race,” she wanted to “trace the certain trajectory that’s familiar to me and many Nigerians like me,” adding that she doesn’t really see much value or truth in the “literature of the immigrant.” Of that trajectory, she said, “It’s the kind of leaving home not because you have to, but because you want to, because you’re longing for choices, because you want more. And, for many Nigerians it’s the U.S., but if you don’t get a U.S. visa, then you go to England.”
So, what should you expect? A classically told, powerfully poignant story of love, race and finding home, whatever that may be. Also, poking some seriously smart fun at America.
Pick up the book, read along with us, and tune in next Friday, April 11, for a deep-dive chat about the book's first 100 (or so) pages. (Tweet us your thoughts @Refinery29 with #R29bookclub in the meantime.) On Friday, April 18, we'll go over Part 2 (through page 270 or so), and then on Friday April 25, we'll finish the entire book (Parts 3 and 4), with a discussion.