The Last Book I Bought: Americanah

Americanah1

By Carolyn Quimby | @CarolynQuimby, @WornBookSmell

Two weeks ago, I had an appointment in the city near Union Square, so I decided to drop into my favorite book store in the entire world — The Strand Bookstore.

For those of you who have never been to The Strand or (gasp) heard of it, the famous bookstore is home is over 2.5 million new, used, and rare books in every genre known to man. The Strand, which opened in 1927, currently resides at 12th St. and Broadway, and spans 3.5 floors. They also have a kiosk in Central Park that is open during good weather. If all of this doesn’t sell you on how amazing The Strand is, maybe this will: the store’s slogan? “18 Miles of Books.” 18. Miles. Of. Books.

But before this turns into a love letter to The Strand, I’ll get onto the last book I bought while I was there: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Often I’ll ask friends via Twitter what they’re reading and what I should read next. Despite having 846 books on my Goodreads “to-read” shelf, I’m constantly looking for things I may have missed in my obsessive book stalking. One friend, whose book taste I trust more than most, offered that she had just finished Americanah and I should read it.

Americanah is the story of two Nigerians named Ifemelu and Ovinze. While at a Lagos secondary school, the teenagers fall in love only to be torn apart by their country’s military dictatorship. Ifemelu leaves for America to study while Obinze finds himself unable to enter the “post 9-11 America” they find themselves in. Set in the “today’s globalized world,” the book spans continents and years, and explores hardship, heartbreak, race, and identity.

Americanah, Adichie’s third novel, was listed by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013. Adichie is not new to awards and accolades. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Commonwealth Writer’s Price for Best First Book (2005) and her second novel, Half a Yellow Sun (2006), won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United Kingdom.

You may also know Adichie’s name from her recent foray into the mainstream media when Beyoncé sampled her amazing TEDx Talk, “We should all be feminists,” on her song “***Flawless.” Adichie’s essay is beautiful and insightful and passionate (and can be listened to or read here). If her fiction is written as well as this essay is, I know I will love it.

I’m super excited to jump into this novel especially because I got a new job (!!!!), which requires me to take to train into New York City every day. I’ll have plenty of time to read all the books that have been on my to-read list for far too long.

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What was the last book you bought? Have you read anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?

 

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