Thursday, 6 November 2014
Burrow into a Book....
I was very lucky growing up to be surrounded by books and those that love books. Ever since I was young I have read a range of genres. I am very much a lover of books, their pages, their smells, their drawings - I have always treasured children's books and picture books. Authors such as A A Milne, Michael Bond, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake, Cornelia Funke, Jacqueline Wilson, Lemony Snickett, Shirley Hughes, Beatrix Potter, Walker Books, Chicken House, Oliver Jeffers.
I am also a great Tolkien, Rowling and George Martin fan. More recently I have discovered authors such as Neil Gaiman. I am currently reading, as part of Waterstones bookclub, Joshua Ferris - I hope to read more of the Man Booker shortlist - Jonas Jonasson, Khaled Hosseini, John Williams & Maya Angelou.
Americanah is Adichie's third novel. As always, the front cover doesn't disappoint and reflects the author's own subtle, lyrical beauty with flecks of colour over a blurred image. I'm not afraid to say that sometimes I chose a book purely by it's cover, I feel it is a way to find new material without any pre-conceptions stopping you. This is very much the case with Chimamanda Adichie's books; I found Half A Yellow Sun stunning, bought it and hence started a love affair with a great female writer.
I found her writing when I was sixteen. I remember at the time I was reading Ibsen's A Doll's House, exploring Nora's character and very interested in the representation of women in writing. Adichie is an incredibly readable author, she immediately caught me with her fluid, immersible writing style and ever since continues to do so. Reading her work is so enjoyable because it feels as though she is with you, showing the story right before your eyes with such ease, allowing you to get engaged, involved and thinking profoundly of both domestic, human emotion and political, racial and gender based issues. She has great conviction and talent for bringing together the day to day lives of characters against much more complicated, deep rooted backdrops.
Shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, Americanah is predominantly a love story between two Lagos teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze, who take different paths in life and who soon face triumphs and complications. However, their journey's spread over three different continents - America, Britain and Nigeria - and with that we see both characters striving their way through life during significant cultural, social and political change. Throughout the book, Adichie discusses at length race, gender and identity with bold yet confident flair and highlights universal, social experiences, such as depression and how it is received in different cultures, brilliantly. Something that I also greatly admired is the honesty and authenticity in Adichie's voice and characters, especially concerning social acceptance and avoidance and social interaction;
“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
A reoccurring theme is that of Ifemelu's hair and the treatment of it - although I cannot personally relate to dealing with black hair politics, it is something that I can relate to as a woman in the sense of conformity and the growing expectation and consensus of image, product and style, which has greatly resulted from our media saturated society.
Integrity and insight are certainly two defining features of not only Adichie's new book but also the author's recent exposure of feminism as a whole in her new essay We Should All be Feminists. From University discussions, to TED talks, to featuring in a Beyonce song, Adichie has vocalised strong, consistent views that can be found amongst all of her works, to which she has gained deserving praise and appreciation.
Adichie has yet again delivered a very human story with Americanah. It is also very important and relevant, not just in retrospect to today's still very prominent social attitudes but to embedded attitudes, reactions and desires for love. I cannot recommend this book, or the author enough.