Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s new novel, Americanah, is getting all kinds of buzz lately.  I had heard of Half of a Yellow Sun a while back, and it now sits next to the bed, waiting patiently to be read (as all books that sit next to the bed must).  Hearing her interviewed recently, I felt compelled to share a passage from the interview, in which she reads an excerpt from the new novel.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Her new novel, Americanah, is being published around the world in April and May 2013.

A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008).


Adichie was interviewed by Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm.  To listen to the interview, click here.

During the interview, Adichie reads from her new novel, Americanah:

Within the novel are scattered blog posts from Adichie’s narrator.  Here’s one:

“Understanding America for the Non-American Black: A Few Explanations of What Things Really Mean

Of all their tribal-isms, Americans are most uncomfortable with race.  If you’re having a conversation with an American, and you want to discuss something racial, that you find interesting, and an American says, “Oh, it’s simplistic to say it’s race. Racism is so complex.”

It means, they just want you to shut up already, because of course racism is complex.  Many abolitionists wanted to free the slaves, but didn’t want black people living nearby.

Lots of folks today don’t mind a black nanny or a black limo driver, but they sure as hell mind a black boss.  What is simplistic, is saying, “It’s so complex.”  But, shut up anyway, especially if you need a job or a favor from the American in question.

Sometimes Americans say “culture” when they mean “race.”  They say a film is “mainstream,” when they mean “white folks like it or need it.”

When Americans say “urban,” it means “black and poor, and possibly dangerous, but potentially exciting.”

And when they say “racially charged,” it means “we’re uncomfortable saying racist.”


Adichie’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story:


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: