15 November 2013

Americannah

Americannah
 
For once I felt that, even if you don't have a story but you write with your heart, you can write anything and it will become a good story worth reading and remembering.
 First things first, loved discovering a new continent Africa and a country Nigeria. I had never read any African books or  authors of you discount VS Naipaul who writes only to impress the western audience. Adichie instead writes what she wants to, she'd doesn't write what the most privileged western audience  want to read. Most immigrant writers write how America is the land of Dreams and how lucky they are to be there. She weighs out everything and dares to write what she feels like. So extra points for that.
It's a very well written book and the author has written straight form the heart. She has talked about her childhood, coming of age and first love in her home country Nigeria, her evolution as an independent women in the US of America and her home coming, making for a happy ending. All's well that ends well. The book could have been a clean chick lit, but the depth of characters, the choices of the protagonist, the political and societal scenarios, choice between security of home and opportunities in foreign lands and choosing love over oneself. Her keen observations on subtle and not so subtle differences between two cultures, were brilliant though filled with sarcasm. Being from another continent myself, whenever we are visiting another, we are expected to behave in a certain way. Why so? Why can't we be just ourselves whether culturally or personality wise? Despite being in America for a long time she stayed an outsider, she never felt home. Home is always where you grew up, it can never be away. May be your next generation would accept the new place as Home but for you it will always be Back Home.
 
Americannah had moments when I found the protagonist Ifemelu (btw loved the name) a little strange and contradictory. She was not your predictable next door girl who wants love and family and happiness. She always wanted something else. She does things pushed by the restlessness in her soul – being reckless or just clamping down like a turtle. She was a strong, independent, mature woman but with brilliance comes a crazy streak, (not to destroying or rule the world) disrupting  her own as well life of others close to her. But this is what made her interesting and intriguing. The ups and downs of her life, the rashness and free falling, made up for an interesting protagonist. Probably that's why she was attracted to the most stable and reliable men like Blaine and Obinze, who grounded her and rooted her. They brought some stability to her crazy topsy-turvy world. They gave her a reason to stay and hold on. Now hear this:
 
There was something wrong with her. She did not know what it was but there was something wrong with her. A hunger, a restlessness. An incomplete knowledge of herself. The sense of something farther away, beyond her reach.
 
That her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
 
Another great thing about the book was the fact that most of us would be able to identify with it – the educated, well-travelled and independent upper middle class. The kind who follow their heart, choose to move in and out of relationships because it wasn't love, not sticking to a job for the money but for the stimulation or personal growth it offered them and speak their opinion on blogs and social media. So an interesting take on a complicated life of someone who knows everything or at least has the exposure or chance to get exposed to everything in life.
 
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is definitely an author to watch out for. She is brilliant, witty, direct, and different from the breed of intellectual literary authors, now am waiting to get hold of her other books Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus .
 
We all have been brought up in a very confused state, to know ourselves as a human and to judge others with their color, race, religion and sex. But what happens when your world turns upside down and you start judging yourself with color and gender bias and others as humans. The dilemma of acknowledging or ignoring the differences. A Black can call oneself Black, but others can't, like you can bitch about your parents but you can't allow others to. The treatment of extremes of black or white is something that falls in the grey area. No one really knows the RIGHT CODE OF CONDUCT. The discrimination of early ages has turned into sympathy or empathy of current times – they both hurt though differently in an aggressive or subtle manner respectively. The author talks about her and her near ones experiences with racism, subtle but always making you realize you are different. She keeps repeating to herself and to others - Yes I am different but I am not worse or unluckier than you.
 
I kept wondering throughout the book why God created us different. If he wanted no discrimination he should have made us color blind then we all would have been equal and world would have been fair – there would be no whites, reds, browns, yellow or blacks. But he did not. Because he created a vibrant world with green plants, blue waters, blue sky, white snow and a brown earth. He created different seasons, bright spring, blue monsoons, white winters and a sepia autumn. But still we have our favorite colors, our favorite seasons, our favorite destinations (hills or the beaches). He created us different so we evolve different, not only as individuals as humans. He created differences amongst us from religions, color, gender, culture, features, languages, behaviors, natures and everything else that maketh us. We are what we are and what we choose to be. Each human is different from another. This uniqueness in each of us makes us special and individual. The power of one against others. So differences are a part of our creation, we should only learn to appreciate it. Why do we like or befriend people who are somewhat similar to us, and dislike or disengage with those who are different from us. We have families or friends who look and behave like us and we feel secure with them. So be liberated, stop being insecure, acknowledge the difference and grow with it. We are all different and that's the beauty of it.
 
Some noteworthy lines from the book:
 
One day, I will look up and all the people I know will be dead or abroad.
 
It was the exaggerated gratitude that came with immigrant insecurity.
 
You could have just said Ngozi is your tribal name and Ifemelu is your jungle name and throw in one more as your spiritual name. They'll believe all kinds of shit about Africa.
 
Americans never said "I don't know." They said, instead, "I'm not sure," which did not give any information but still suggested the possibility of knowledge
 
maybe it's time to just scrap the word "racist." Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute
 
"Ma? I think you have the spirit of husband-repelling. You are too hard, ma, you will not find a husband. But my pastor can destroy that spirit."
 
But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward-looking, we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West their best is already past and so they have to make a fetish of that past. Remember this is our newly middle-class world. We haven't completed the first cycle of prosperity, before going back to the beginning again, to drink milk from the cow's udder.
 
Try more strategy and less force. Passion never wins any game, never mind what they say." He said something similar now: "Excuses don't win a game. You should try strategy.
 
There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.
 
What's a Magic Negro, you ask? The black man who is eternally wise and kind. He never reacts under great suffering, never gets angry, is never threatening. He always forgives all kinds of racist shit. He teaches the white person how to break down the sad but understandable prejudice in his heart. You see this man in many films. And Obama is straight from central casting.
Must Buy Americanah ebook

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