Americanah: a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013).
This is actually Adichie’s fourth novel; she sounds so young I assumed it was her first. I think her fresh voice will resonate with the college students who are supposed to be reading it for their freshman seminar at my university. I hope they don’t assume it’s like most of the English literature they are required to read, which is usually very hard for students to relate to, and don’t bother to open it. If so they will miss out on the story of two intelligent young Nigerians in their twenties seeking fame, fortune and love – the woman in America (mainly in the Philadelphia area) and the man briefly in England and then back home in Lagos, Nigeria. The social commentary about the United States is spot on, so I expect that Adichie’s commentary about life in Nigeria is equally accurate. There is a whole secondary theme about “identity through hair”, as a co-worker of mine called it, particularly as it relates to women of African descent. Most Americans (college students or not) know very little about life in modern African countries (unless they are fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s books set in Botswana) and will find this novel fascinating and eye-opening.