What Am I Reading? Americanah

This week I’m featuring Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a book club selection. I’m the one who will be leading the discussion, so I feel some pressure to read it carefully. I’m about half-way through it and I have to say its pretty good. Its the story of a young woman from Nigeria who comes to America to go to college. Her impressions are fascinating.

I’m sorry the first paragraph is so long, but I hope you’ll find it interesting:

Part 1

Chapter 1

Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly. Philadelphia had the musty scent of history. New Haven smelled of neglect. Baltimore smelled of brine, and Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage. But Princeton had no smell. She liked taking deep breaths here. She liked watching the locals who drove with pointed courtesy and parked their latest-model cars outside the organic grocery store on Nassau Street or outside the sushi restaurants or outside the ice cream shop that had fifty different flavors including red pepper or outside the post office where effusive staff bounded out to greet them at the entrance. She liked the campus, grave with knowledge, the Gothic buildings with their vine-laced walls, and the way everything transformed, in the half-light pf night, into a ghostly scene. She liked, most of all, that in this place of affluent ease, she could pretend to be someone else someone3 specially admitted into a hallowed American club, someone adorned with certainty.


What do you think?

Would you keep reading?


firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.


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12 Responses to What Am I Reading? Americanah

  1. This sounds very good and I do hope you are enjoying your careful read! I feel an affinity with the narrator as I think smell is often an underrated sense, perhaps especially in fiction and I love the way she tells us about those other cities using smell as short-hand.

  2. I’ve seen this one around, but never really given much thought to it being ‘my kind of read’, however the intro intrigues me and I’d continue reading!

  3. Vicki says:

    I’d keep reading.

  4. Kay says:

    I like the description of the smells of the various locations too, though the actual smells might not be pleasant. Hope your group will enjoy this and have a great discussion!

  5. Diane says:

    Oh yes, love this author and wanted to try this one as well. Hope u love it Margot.

  6. I’ve heard great things about this book and I think you’ll have a lot to talk about.

  7. I read this book last year with one of my book clubs. It was a fascinating look into Nigerian culture and a good introduction to the author. Hope you enjoy it.

  8. I have only read one book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I loved it (Half a Yellow Sun). I really want to read this one. It does sound interesting and thought provoking. Good luck with your book discussion! I bet it will be an interesting one.

  9. Oh, yes, I can completely visualize the world she sees, which helps us understand her perspective…and some of her experiences.

    Thanks for sharing, and I do want to know more. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  10. Emma says:

    I have this somewhere on my kindle and should dig it out. It sounds such an interesting book.

  11. Jhohadli says:

    Love Chimamanda. Haven’t read Americannah yet – it’s on my to-read list though. I agree with Cleo up top, smell is so often underused in fiction. But then Chimamanda is a writer who compels all the senses. I know Lupita Nyongo has plans to turn this book in to a film. Make it happen, Hollywood. Loved the first paragraph; look forward to your review.

  12. Nise' says:

    Hope the discussion goes well! I like the writing and would keep reading.

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