There are few ways to feel whiter than to read a novel written from the perspective of a Nigerian woman who moves to America and discovers how it feels to be black.
More than a decade after coming to America from Lagos, Nigeria, Ifemelu has it pretty good. She’s got a fellowship at Princeton and a handsome professor boyfriend, and makes a decent living writing an anonymous blog about race in the U.S. But Ifem is plagued by thoughts of her past, both in a macro sense—could the only thing righter than leaving Nigeria be going back?—and in a literal one: Ifem’s teenage sweetheart ex, Obinze, is still in Lagos. Granted, he’s married now, but she finds herself thinking about him all the same.
If this sounds like a worldly set up for what is otherwise a traditional “guy meets girl, guy fucks it up with girl, guy and girl eventually reunite” love story, it isn’t. The story of Ifemelu and Obinze is at once traditional and not, and overall far more emblematic of the complications of uprooting one’s life for the ephemeral promise of America than it is of a humdrum long-distance romance. This is not Nicholas Sparks goes to Africa. (Besides, we all know Sparks only writes about white people.)Continue reading “Americanah is great”