So this was the book on my TBR that I knew basically nothing about, I was under the impression that it was a love story with a bit of immigration involved, but it’s not really about the relationship at all. It’s there, and it’s important, but they aren’t even in communication for most of it.
What it is about is the specific experience of race that happens to black immigrants arriving in America, and to a lesser extent Britain. I particularly love the way she renders Britain and America as opposed to Nigeria. The novel is most alive when it is in Nigeria, it is obvious how much Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie loves the country, and while she has positive things to say about America (less so Britain, although that is perhaps more to do with the plot which unfolds in Britain than her actual opinion on London), it falls flat next to Nigeria. As Ifemelu moves away from Nigeria and builds her life in the USA, I found myself longing for the sections set in Nigeria, mimicking the character’s homesickness.
There is an overarching plot, but Adichie gives it space so that she can really explore her characters and themes, which I adored. She’s telling a story, but she’s taking her time about it. I’m not normally one for long books, but this flew by. I was loving this so much that when I got to my parents’ house to stay for the weekend and found that I had left the book at home, I had to borrow my mum’s kindle, which she had it downloaded on, and read the last fifty pages. It’s a confident, emotionally intelligent book and I cannot wait to read more.
I hope I have come away from reading this book a little wiser, with a little more understanding of race. If you haven’t, read it.