Saturday, September 21, 2013


This is another fantastic novel by the Nigerian-American author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  She follows the stories of Ifemelu and Obinze, from the time they fall in love as teenagers, through to their difficult reunion as adults.

Ifemelu grows up relatively poor, the daughter of an educated man who speaks formal English but gets laid off for refusing to call his boss, "Mummy" and a fanatically religious mother.  Obinze is slightly better off, being raised by his widowed mother who is a professor.  Obinze obsesses about immigrating to the United States but it is Ifemelu who moves there for University - joining her aunt and cousin who are also fascinating characters.  Obinze hopes to follow but post-911 restrictions mean he is unable to obtain a visa so instead moves to London where he lives and works illegally until he is deported moments before entering into a sham marriage.

Ifemelu nearly starves trying to put herself through college and unable to get a job.  In desperation she accepts money in exchange for sexual favours, once.  She is so humiliated she cuts off all contact with Obinze - who is hurt and puzzled but never angry.

Ifemelu's life turns around when she gets a job as a babysitter for a white family, falls for one of their relatives who helps her get a job and a green card.  She lives happily for some time but then, disaffected she sabotages the relationship and quits her job.  But finds success as an anonymous blogger making insightful observations as a non-American black on being black in America.  She then enters a relationship with a black Yale professor but never quite fits in with his left leaning academic crowd (though they do bond over Obama's election campaign).

After this she decides to give up her blog and her relationship to return to Nigeria.  There she is reunited with Obinze who is married with a young child and must figure out what to do now that the love of his life has returned.  We are left in doubt, but with hope, about how things will work out.

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