Chimamanda is yet to disappoint me — not that I am looking out for her to disappoint. So far, she is the best female African writer I have ever read.
Yet even as I type that previous sentence, I can’t help but feel Ifemelu looking over my shoulder and shaking her head disapprovingly. Did I have to put those qualifiers, “African”, “female”? Couldn’t I just say Chimamanda is a good writer, period?
Ifemelu, the main character, is a Nigerian girl who flies to the US immediately after her undergrad. It is in America that she realizes she is black, and that to be black in America means to be concerned about race – whether you’re a racist or not. Ifemelu copes with life in America in different, often creative, ways.
You will have to read the book to see how far she was willing to go in her moments of of financial desperation.
Since she often found it difficult to keep her opinions to herself, Ifemelu coped with life in America by venting on her blog – a blog about race in America. The posts are quite insightful. She learns a lot about people and race and in the process, learns things about herself, many of them surprising to herself.
Then there’s Obinze, the love of Ifemelu’s life. Their relationship is the narrative adhesive that keeps the reader glued to the book. One keeps turning the page to see if this will be another “happily ever after” tale of love or not.
There’s so much to say about the book — especially the way he author takes on the topic of race in America.
But what stood out most was the author’s depth of insight. Chimamanda has an uncanny ability to see into people’s personalities and draw profound life lessons. Her characters are deep, not self-consciously deep, but she often depicts them as deep subjects of analysis to the reader.
I love the way Chimamanda doesn’t fear the complexity of human beings. She faces it head on and presents it in all its glorious messiness in the book.
The author doesn’t present simplistic people, she makes characters complex and confused and double-minded and all sorts of unpredictable. Her characters are painfully human.
This is a great story, one that I will definitely re-read in the future. Grab a copy when you can, it will be worth your while.
Kenyan Journalist, Communications Specialist, and a follower of Jesus Christ. I graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Structural Engineering but decided to pursue a career in journalism.
Worked at Nation Media Group for four years, first as a General Reporter for the Daily Nation before becoming an Investigative and Special Projects writer.
Later transitioned into PR and worked as a Content Associate for two years at Hill+Knowlton Strategies (WPP). Currently a Communications Consultant specialising in Content Strategy and Development.