Thursday, February 11, 2016


I have been savoring this novel for the past few weeks, not wanting the story to end.  Adichie has, once again, given me so much to think about.  A woman stopped me as I exited the 7 train this morning, the worn book in my gloved hand.  "That's a really good book," she said, her words accented and musical.  "The part about Obinze, though... that was really depressing."

That storyline was depressing, no doubt, but the part that has depressed me the most so far is the characters' reaction to Barack Obama's nomination and eventual election.  Reading it, I recalled my own feelings of hope, elation, and even disbelief in those weeks before and after the 2008 election.  In some ways, they feel so distant now.  A colleague coincidentally pointed me to this editorial by David Brooks published earlier this week, and the collision of my reading this novel and Brooks' editorial is just too timely, in our current political climate, to ignore.

This book has been a depressing, thoughtful, heartfelt read.  I am dreading the last page.

"It puzzled him that she did not mourn all the things she could have been. Was it a quality inherent in women, or did they just learn to shield their personal regrets, to suspend their lives, subsume themselves in child care?"


"When Philip complained about the French couple building a house next to his in Cornwall, Emenike asked, 'Are they between you and the sunset?'
Are they between you and the sunset? It would never occur to Obinze, or to anybody he had grown up with, to ask a question like that."


"She was absorbed and moved by the man she met in those pages, an inquiring and intelligent man, a kind man, a man so utterly, helplessly, winningly humane.  He reminded her of Obinze's expression for people he liked.  Obi ocha.  A clean heart.  She believed Barack Obama.  When Blaine came home, she sat at the dining table, watching him chop fresh basil in the kitchen, and said, 'If only the man who wrote this book could be the president of America'."

From Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adcihie