Travelling the World with Books

A blog in which I describe a literary project to Travel the World with Books. I will include synopsis's of the books, historical context, conversations with my reading partner and my thoughts on the books. Feel free to comment any thoughts or recommendations for foreign books I can read.


12. 21th July 2018

Americanah Review


A few days ago I finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Americanah’ and have now started reading ‘Red Dust’. Here are a few thoughts on the book.


The main theme in the book is race and the main character, Ifemelu, ’s experiences of being black in America (in about the mid-2000s). I think it is very well written because everyone, whatever race or nationality, can learn something from it. Personally as a white british living in England, I can reflect on what Ifemelu notices about how white people interact with her and think about how I, or other white people I know, interact with black people. She brings up little things that aren’t overtly racist or intentional and someone like me wouldn’t even think about, like mentioning charitable work you’re doing or financially contributing to in their country of origin. Not discriminatory or racist at all, but give it a second thought: you are putting them in a place where they need your help and they should be thankful to you, and with this shift in dynamic you now have power, the playing field is no longer level. This is just on example. Another I found, and in fact notice my father doing often (I always tell him not to), is changing your speak to coloured people, or those for whom English is their second language. Slowing down or missing words out of sentences. Surely even if they aren’t fluent, you speaking proper English will help them learn and converse in English and if they are fluent then you’re just being patronising. This is one of many things in a similar vein this book make me think about - and you probably should too.

    Apart from all the real life teachings in the novel it is also an entertaining read, not as heavy or preachy as I realise I may be making it out to be. We see, as Lucie mentioned, Ifemelu travel to America, the ultimate goal in her Nigerian society, and study there, meeting boyfriends and writing a blog on attitudes towards race in America, which Adichie includes some entries to.  We also follow Obinze, Ifemelu’s teenage boyfriend, and his attempts at going abroad. Overall I think this is a must read for everyone who cares about racial equality (if you don’t think this is a problem that needs caring about, that’s just white privilege: it is) and, well, everyone else too.

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