Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pdf Download, Summary

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a 2013 novel by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for which Adichie won the 2013 U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Americanah tells the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who immigrates to the United States to attend university. The novel traces Ifemelu’s life in both countries, threaded by her love story with high school classmate Obinze. It was Adichie’s third novel, published on May 14, 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf. In this article you will be able to freely download Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as well as do the following amazing things:

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Summary of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 From the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Half of a Yellow Sun—the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race, belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home. Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

About the author-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New YorkerThe New York TimesGrantaThe O. Henry Prize StoriesFinancial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which was the recipient of the Women’s Prize for Fiction “Winner of Winners” award; Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck; and the essays We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, both national bestsellers. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Characters in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • Ifemelu

– The titular Americanah and protagonist of the novel, a Nigerian woman who moves to America. Ifemelu is opinionated and disarmingly frank to the point that it gets her into trouble. Despite her stubbornness, Ifemelu’s journey to America is more an idea other people had for her than her own. Throughout the novel, she turns more to the markers of her true self, including her real accent, her natural hair, and eventually a return to Nigeria.

  • ·         Obinze

– Ifemelu’s first love, a calm, thoughtful Nigerian man. Throughout the novel, Obinze is attracted to authenticity and he finds Ifemelu’s honesty and bluntness refreshing. As a youth, Obinze loves the idea of America and believes it to be the future. After seeing the obstacles Nigerians must go through to succeed in America and Britain, he resolves to stay in Nigeria. Obinze becomes wealthy and falls into a superficial marriage with Kosi, but never falls out of love with Ifemelu

  • ·         Dike

– The son of Aunty Uju and The General. Over the course of the novel, Dike grows from a bright and cheerful child to a confused and depressed teenager. He finds himself trapped between his peers’ treatment of him as a black American, and his mother’s insistence that he is not a black American.

  • ·         Aunty Uju

– Ifemelu’s aunt, a doctor who immigrates to America with her son, Dike. As a young woman in Nigeria, she offers practical advice to Ifemelu about growing up, but the pressures of rebuilding her life in America dampen Aunty Uju’s spirit. Her willingness to allow others to control her destiny means Ifemelu, though younger, often is the one to emotionally support Aunt Uju.

  • ·         Curt

– Kimberly’s cousin, a wealthy white man full of energy and optimism who dates Ifemelu. He enjoys giving Ifemelu lavish gifts and taking her to exotic destinations, even making sure she is able to find employment after graduation. However, Curt is also possessive of Ifemelu, and unable to fully understand her.

  • ·         Blaine

– An earnest and justice-minded black American man and a professor of political science. Blaine’s strong principles often lead to conflict in his dating relationship with Ifemelu.

  • Ginika

– Ifemelu’s beautiful and kind friend from secondary school, a popular girl whom Kayode wants to set up with Obinze. She is always voted the most beautiful girl in school, which she attributes to her mixed race heritage. Ginika moves to America in her teens and later guides Ifemelu through her early days in America.

  • ·         Ifemelu’s Father

– A thoughtful and proud man who attempts to mask his limited education with his large vocabulary. After he loses his job, he falls into a deep depression that plunges the family into dire financial straits.

  • ·         Ifemelu’s Mother

– A religious woman who tries to smooth over difficulties with her extremist faith.

  • ·         Obinze’s Mother

– An intelligent and practical professor. She is earnest and frank about difficult topics, such as sex, preferring honesty except when forced to lie for her son.

  • ·         Kosi

– Obinze’s wife, a beautiful and bubbly Nigerian woman. Kosi wants her life with Obinze to remain smooth and seamless, and she can be counted on to charm her way through any difficult social situation. The value she places on appearance over honesty makes her a foil for Ifemelu.

  • Shan

– Blaine’s dazzling older sister. Shan has a magnetic personality that she uses to host parties featuring artists and intellectuals she admires; however, she expects to remain at the center of these gatherings, and is often very selfish.

  • ·         Kimberly

– A good-hearted but privileged white woman who offers Ifemelu a babysitting job in America. Kimberly’s “white guilt” causes her to apologize constantly, which initially makes it difficult for Ifemelu to befriend her.

  • ·         Wambui

– Ifemelu’s friend from college, a Kenyan woman studying in Philadelphia on a student visa. Wambui takes Ifemelu to her first meeting of the African Students Union, allowing Ifemelu to connect with other African students at the university, and she later encourages Ifemelu to embrace her natural hair.

  • ·         Chief

– An extremely wealthy Nigerian man whom Obinze curries favor with in hopes of finding a job in Lagos.

  • ·         The General

– An important man in the military government of Nigeria who is having an affair with Aunty Uju. He is extremely controlling, and arranges Aunty Uju’s life so she depends completely upon him. He is also Dike’s father.

  • ·         Nicholas

– Obinze’s cousin who has moved to London. Although his university years were spent rebelling, in London he is now serious and stolid, with no trace of his former energy.

  • ·         Ojiugo

– Nicholas’s wife. In Nigeria, she was as rebellious as Nicholas, but in London she devotes all her energy into playing the role of dutiful wife and mother, projecting all her dreams onto her children.

  • ·         Nigel

– Obinze’s coworker at the London warehouse, a young and insecure man who befriends Obinze and always splits their tips evenly.

  • ·         Doris

– Ifemelu’s coworker at Zoe, a young woman determined to remain in Aunty Onenu’s good graces with her obsequious nature. She has recently returned to Nigeria from America, and constantly reminds everyone of this fact.

  • ·         Laura

– Kimberly’s sister, a demanding and bitter white woman. She meddles in Kimberly’s life, even discouraging her from hiring Ifemelu.

  • ·         Boubacar

– A Senegalese immigrant, a pretentious but kind professor at Yale who encourages Ifemelu to apply for the Princeton fellowship.

  • ·         Zemaye

– Ifemelu’s coworker at Zoe, a prickly but intelligent young woman with no patience for Doris’s airs.

  • ·         Aunty Onenu

– Ifemelu’s boss at Zoe, a society woman more interested in defeating her rival in women’s magazine publishing than running a business.

  • ·         Aisha

– The African woman braiding Ifemelu’s hair throughout the novel. She annoys Ifemelu with her constant questions, but these hide her desperation to obtain American citizenship.

  • ·         Paula

– Blaine’s ex-girlfriend, a white woman and fellow academic. Her zeal for social justice matches Blaine’s, and reminds Ifemelu that there is a bond they share that she will never understand.

  • ·         Kayode

– The most popular student at Ifemelu’s secondary school. He wants to set Obinze up with Ginika.

  • Bartholomew

– Aunty Uju’s American husband, a childish and selfish man who expects to use Aunty Uju for money and housekeeping.

  • ·         Vincent Obi

– A Nigerian immigrant in Britain, a greedy swindler who extorts money from Obinze by lending him his insurance card.

  • ·         Ranyinudo

– One of Ifemelu’s Nigerian friends who helps Ifemelu reacquaint herself to life in Lagos.

  • ·         Cristina Tomas

– The rude receptionist at the registrar’s office at Wellson. Ifemelu adopts an American accent after Cristina assumes Ifemelu only has a tenuous grasp of English.

Excerpt from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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 of night, into a ghostly scene. She liked, most of all, that in this place of affluent ease, she could pretend to be someone else, someone specially admitted into a hallowed American club, someone adorned with certainty.
But she did not like that she had to go to Trenton to braid her hair. It was unreasonable to expect a braiding salon in Princeton—the few black locals she had seen were so light-skinned and lank-haired she could not imagine them wearing braids—and yet as she waited at Princeton Junction station for the train, on an afternoon ablaze with heat, she wondered why there was no place where she could braid her hair. The chocolate bar in her handbag had melted. A few other people were waiting on the platform, all of them white and lean, in short, flimsy clothes. The man standing closest to her was eating an ice cream cone; she had always found it a little irresponsible, the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men, especially the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men in public. He turned to her and said, “About time,” when the train finally creaked in, with the familiarity strangers adopt with each other after sharing in the disappointment of a public service. She smiled at him. The graying hair on the back of his head was swept forward, a comical arrangement to disguise his bald spot. He had to be an academic, but not in the humanities or he would be more self-conscious. A firm science like chemistry, maybe. Before, she would have said, “I know,” that peculiar American expression that professed agreement rather than knowledge, and then she would have started a conversation with him, to see if he would say something she could use in her blog. People were flattered to be asked about themselves and if she said nothing after they spoke, it made them say more. They were conditioned to fill silences. If they asked what she did, she would say vaguely, “I write a lifestyle blog,” because saying “I write an anonymous blog called Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black” would make them uncomfortable. She had said it, though, a few times. Once to a dreadlocked white man who sat next to her on the train, his hair like old twine ropes that ended in a blond fuzz, his tattered shirt worn with enough piety to convince her that he was a social warrior and might make a good guest blogger. “Race is totally overhyped these days, black people need to get over themselves, it’s all about class now, the haves and the have-nots,” he told her evenly, and she used it as the opening sentence of a post titled “Not All Dreadlocked White American Guys Are Down.” Then there was the man from Ohio, who was squeezed next to her on a flight. A middle manager, she was sure, from his boxy suit and contrast collar. He wanted to know what she meant by “lifestyle blog,” and she told him, expecting him to become reserved, or to end the conversation by saying something defensively bland like “The only race that matters is the human race.” But he said, “Ever write about adoption? Nobody wants black babies in this country, and I don’t mean biracial, I mean black. Even the black families don’t want them.”
He told her that he and his wife had adopted a black child and their neighbors looked at them as though they had chosen to become martyrs for a dubious cause. Her blog post about him, “Badly-Dressed White Middle Managers from Ohio Are Not Always What You Think,” had received the highest number of comments for that month. She still wondered if he had read it. She hoped so. Often, she would sit in cafés, or airports, or train stations, watching strangers, imagining their lives, and wondering which of them were likely to have read her blog. Now her ex-blog. She had written the final post only days ago, trailed by two hundred and seventy-four comments so far. All those readers, growing month by month, linking and cross-posting, knowing so much more than she did; they had always frightened and exhilarated her. SapphicDerrida, one of the most frequent posters, wrote: I’m a bit surprised by how personally I am taking this. Good luck as you pursue the unnamed “life change” but please come back to the blogosphere soon. You’ve used your irreverent, hectoring, funny and thought-provoking voice to create a space for real conversations about an important subject. Readers like SapphicDerrida, who reeled off statistics and used words like “reify” in their comments, made Ifemelu nervous, eager to be fresh and to impress, so that she began, over time, to feel like a vulture hacking into the carcasses of people’s stories for something she could use. Sometimes making fragile links to race. Sometimes not believing herself. The more she wrote, the less sure she became. Each post scraped off yet one more scale of self until she felt naked and false.
The ice-cream-eating man sat beside her on the train and, to discourage conversation, she stared fixedly at a brown stain near her feet, a spilled frozen Frappuccino, until they arrived at Trenton. The platform was crowded with black people, many of them fat, in short, flimsy clothes. It still startled her, what a difference a few minutes of train travel made. During her first year in America, when she took New Jersey Transit to Penn Station and then the subway to visit Aunty Uju in Flatlands, she was struck by how mostly slim white people got off at the stops in Manhattan and, as the train went further into Brooklyn, the people left were mostly black and fat. She had not thought of them as “fat,” though. She had thought of them as “big,” because one of the first things her friend Ginika told her was that “fat” in America was a bad word, heaving with moral judgment like “stupid” or “bastard,” and not a mere description like “short” or “tall.” So she had banished “fat” from her vocabulary. But “fat” came back to her last winter, after almost thirteen years, when a man in line behind her at the supermarket muttered, “Fat people don’t need to be eating that shit,” as she paid for her giant bag of Tostitos. She glanced at him, surprised, mildly offended, and thought it a perfect blog post, how this stranger had decided she was fat. She would file the post under the tag “race, gender and body size.” But back home, as she stood and faced the mirror’s truth, she realized that she had ignored, for too long, the new tightness of her clothes, the rubbing together of her inner thighs, the softer, rounder parts of her that shook when she moved. She was fat.
She said the word “fat” slowly, funneling it back and forward, and thought about all the other things she had learned not to say aloud in America. She was fat. She was not curvy or big-boned; she was fat, it was the only word that felt true. And she had ignored, too, the cement in her soul. Her blog was doing well, with thousands of unique visitors each month, and she was earning good speaking fees, and she had a fellowship at Princeton and a relationship with Blaine—“You are the absolute love of my life,” he’d written in her last birthday card—and yet there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness and borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness. She scoured Nigerian websites, Nigerian profiles on Facebook, Nigerian blogs, and each click brought yet another story of a young person who had recently moved back home, clothed in American or British degrees, to start an investment company, a music production business, a fashion label, a magazine, a fast-food franchise. She looked at photographs of these men and women and felt the dull ache of loss, as though they had prised open her hand and taken something of hers. They were living her life. Nigeria became where she was supposed to be, the only place she could sink her roots in without the constant urge to tug them out and shake off the soil. And, of course, there was also Obinze. Her first love, her first lover, the only person with whom she had never felt the need to explain herself. He was now a husband and father, and they had not been in touch in years, yet she could not pretend that he was not a part of her homesickness, or that she did not often think of him, sifting through their past, looking for portents of what she could not name.
The rude stranger in the supermarket—who knew what problems he was wrestling with, haggard and thin-lipped as he was—had intended to offend her but had instead prodded her awake.
She began to plan and to dream, to apply for jobs in Lagos. She did not tell Blaine at first, because she wanted to finish her fellowship at Princeton, and then after her fellowship ended, she did not tell him because she wanted to give herself time to be sure. But as the weeks passed, she knew she would never be sure. So she told him that she was moving back home, and she added, “I have to,” knowing he would hear in her words the sound of an ending.
“Why?” Blaine asked, almost automatically, stunned by her announcement. There they were, in his living room in New Haven, awash in soft jazz and daylight, and she looked at him, her good, bewildered man, and felt the day take on a sad, epic quality. They had lived together for three years, three years free of crease, like a smoothly ironed sheet, until their only fight, months ago, when Blaine’s eyes froze with blame and he refused to speak to her. But they had survived that fight, mostly because of Barack Obama, bonding anew over their shared passion. On election night, before Blaine kissed her, his face wet with tears, he held her tightly as though Obama’s victory was also their personal victory. And now here she was telling him it was over.
“Why?” he asked. He taught ideas of nuance and complexity in his classes and yet he was asking her for a single reason, the cause. But she had not had a bold epiphany and there was no cause; it was simply that layer after layer of discontent had settled in her, and formed a mass that now propelled her. She did not tell him this, because it would hurt him to know she had felt that way for a while, that her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
“Take the plant,” he said to her, on the last day she saw him, when she was packing the clothes she kept in his apartment. He looked defeated, standing slump-shouldered in the kitchen. It was his houseplant, hopeful green leaves rising from three bamboo stems, and when she took it, a sudden crushing loneliness lanced through her and stayed with her for weeks. Sometimes, she still felt it. How was it possible to miss something you no longer wanted? Blaine needed what she was unable to give and she needed what he was unable to give, and she grieved this, the loss of what could have been.

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Editorial reviews and praise for the book

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner • One of the New York Times Book Review‘s Best Books of the Year

“Dazzling. . . . Funny and defiant, and simultaneously so wise. . . . Brilliant.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A very funny, very warm and moving intergenerational epic that confirms Adichie’s virtuosity, boundless empathy and searing social acuity.” —Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King

“Masterful. . . . An expansive, epic love story. . . . Pulls no punches with regard to race, class and the high-risk, heart-tearing struggle for belonging in a fractured world.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“A knockout of a novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color. . . . A marvel.” —NPR

“A cerebral and utterly transfixing epic. . . . Americanah is superlative at making clear just how isolating it can be to live far away from home. . . . Unforgettable.” —The Boston Globe

“Witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic . . . a novel that holds the discomfiting realities of our times fearlessly before us. . . . A steady-handed dissection of the universal human experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Adichie is uniquely positioned to compare racial hierarchies in the United States to social striving in her native Nigeria. She does so in this new work with a ruthless honesty about the ugly and beautiful sides of both nations.” —The Washington Post

“Gorgeous. . . . A bright, bold book with unforgettable swagger that proves it sometimes takes a newcomer to show Americans to ourselves.” —The Dallas Morning News

Americanah tackles the U.S. race complex with a directness and brio no U.S. writer of any color would risk.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“So smart about so many subjects that to call it a novel about being black in the 21st century doesn’t even begin to convey its luxurious heft and scope. . . . Capacious, absorbing and original.” —Jennifer Reese, NPR

“Superb . . . Americanah is that rare thing in contemporary literary fiction: a lush, big-hearted love story that also happens to be a piercingly funny social critique.” —Vogue

“A near-flawless novel.” —The Seattle Times

One of the Best Books of the Year
The New York Times • NPR • Chicago Tribune • The Washington Post • The Seattle Times • Entertainment Weekly • Newsday • Goodreads 
One of Time‘s 10 Best Fiction Books of the 2010s

Reviews from customers on Amazon

Cathryn Conroy


5.0 out of 5 stars This Is a Book to Be Cherished

Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2017

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I just have to say this first: I LOVED this book! And I also have to say that it was a little out of my comfort zone. Written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, this is a book about Nigeria. And Nigerians. And Nigerians who move to the United States. And England. And then move back to Nigeria. What does a white woman from the ‘burbs—even though those ‘burbs are considered THE most diverse city in the country (according to a 2017 WalletHub analysis of 313 U.S. cities)—know about Nigeria? Well, that, my friends, is the joy and wonder of reading. We can experience what we do not know in our limited real lives.

Ifemelu and Obinze are in love. They are teenagers in Lagos, Nigeria with big dreams for the future that, for the most part, do not involve Africa. Ifemelu has an opportunity to move to the United States for college. Obinze, who cannot get a visa, still encourages her to go. She lives a life separate from him and does something that is so destructive to her soul she fully separates herself from Obinze—without telling him why. The book alternates between their two stories, as well as in the past and present, but the writing is so perfect this all works seamlessly. But more than anything else, “Americanah” is a book about life and hope. Love and regret. Racism, prejudice and justice. Leaving home and going back. It is a book that speaks truths profound and witty. It is a book to be cherished.


5.0 out of 5 stars Americanah, so exquisite!

Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2017

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This is the first time that I have rated a book 5 stars! Adichie has now become my all time favorite writer. Her writing is exquisite, intelligent, somber, and thought provoking among other accolades that I can’t quite describe. I have been an avid reader for the past 60 years. Although I have read some excellent books, I can truly say that this story left no stone unturned, no questions left unanswered. I am not a reviewer, but I know what I like! I don’t like reviews that dissect each and every character, tell the plot, theme, problem and resolution. I just want to know why one does, or does not like a story. Therefore, I will do just that. Adichie’s characters are well fleshed out. She gets in their mind, body, and soul. She is a fluent writer, so lyrical. I traveled with them. Wanted to understand them. And I really wanted to taste their food and learn some Igbo. I just don’t know what took me so long to find Ms. Adichie. Shame on me!

William B. Radl

5.0 out of 5 stars Love, culture and race…

Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2016

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A June, 2016 Pew research study was titled On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites are Worlds Apart. While interesting, the Pew study, like so much of what we “know” about America, comes in a distilled abstraction that does not elicit a feeling. In Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Aditchie personalizes the various and real meanings of race, racism, black, white, foreign, and native, and describes feelings of anger, hurt, joy and love as she follows a Nigerian couple from high school into the beginning of middle life. Together and in love as young people in Africa they eventually move apart, to different parts of the world, seeing themselves over and over again through the eyes of those raised in cultures that they had long admired, but surprised and confused by the disconnect between expectation and reality, struggling to hold on to their dreams and failing. Their friends follow much the same trajectory and each reconciles to their new culture differently, giving up parts of themselves and acquiring new parts to survive.

This is a wide ranging, smart novel that makes the ideas of race and color and gender real in the context of the sexual, political, religious and intellectual cultures of America, Nigeria and England. Ifemelu, the young woman we follow from Africa to America and back, at one point, frustrated by a young American white woman who asks about the book she is reading thinks, “Why (do) people ask “What is it about?” as if a novel ha(s) to be about only one thing.” This novel is about many many things. And though she is not optimistic about racism in America, Aditchie gives us one answer from Ifemelu: “The simplest solution to the problem of race in America? Romantic love. Not friendship. Not the kind of safe, shallow love where the objective is that both people remain comfortable. But real deep romantic love, the kind that twists you and wrings you out and makes you breathe through the nostrils of your beloved. And because that real deep romantic love is so rare, and because American society is set up to make it even rarer between American Black and American White, the problem of race in America will never be solved.”

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