Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie is the story of Ifemelu and Obinze. Both see the United States as a place where they can achieve more than in their native country Nigeria. Ifemelu lives there – Obinze doesn’t. And it is through Ifemelu’s eyes that I as the reader explored her encounters with love, loss and prejudice. Race was not an issue in Nigeria, but in the USA, Ifemelu learns what it feels like to be judged because of the colour of her skin, her way of speaking the English language and because of – her hair! Whether she straightens it or not is a question of belonging. For me, one of the best parts of the book are set in a braiding salon, where Ifemelu reflects on her surroundings and her decision to return to Nigeria – burning all bridges in the USA, it seems, although she’s a successful blogger and academic. Thankfully, her move is not the end of her blog – the contents simply change after a short work interlude at a publishing house in Lagos. Again, her writing helps her to make sense of the world, of her love for Obinze, who seems to be close and still out of her reach. Obinze, who didn’t quite get to the land of his dreams and ended up in the UK instead – to live a nightmare rather than a nice, sunny promise. Their two lives are intertwined and touch on the lives of many others – and the writer, who holds all threads of their stories in her hand – weaves them into a complex tapestry. I learnt a few things about Nigeria and continue to admire Ifemelu’s integrity.
Translated from English into German by Anette Grube.