Americanah Wins National Books Critics Circle Fiction Prize 2014

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s first novel was longlisted for the Man Booker prize; her second, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. Now her third, the acclaimed Americanah, has beaten Donna Tartt‘s The Goldfinch to win the Nigerian author one of most prestigious literary prizes in the US, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) award.

“Adichie’s story of a Nigerian blogger who returns to her home country from the US to meet the man who was her childhood sweetheart was much-praised in the UK; the Guardian called it “impressive [and] subtle, but not afraid to pull its punches”; the Telegraph said it was “a brilliant exploration of being African in America”. Now the NBCC awards – the only US prize judged by critics – has also chosen to honour the novel, on Thursday announcing the “love story, immigrant’s tale and acute snapshot of our times” as the winner of its best novel prize, ahead of The Goldfinch, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Javiar Marías’s The Infatuations and Alice McDermott’s Someone.” Read More . . .Image 

Culled from The Guardian

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Fake Copies of Americanah

The pirates are at it again. It has come to our attention that counterfeit copies of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah, published in Nigeria by Kachifo Ltd under its Farafina imprint, are being sold by street vendors and certain bookshops.

This issue highlights the dilemma faced by Nigerian publishers, writers artistes, filmmakers, in fact all producers of creative content: become too popular, create something that “reigns” and risk getting your creation hijacked by thieves and criminals.

We have reported the matter to the NCC and other relevant enforcement agencies. At the moment we know that the pirated version was designed and printed off of a single scanned copy of the Nigerian edition of this book.

We need your help, friends and family of Farafina. We need you to not buy the faked version of our book. We need you to say to the pirates, No, I will not help you destroy honest hardworking people. I will not.

This is not a victimless crime.

See the photo in this post. The fake copy is the one on theleft. Notice that it uses a dark wine colour (unlike the original which has a maroon finish textured with specks of black). Notice that the image of the fountain pen is photoshopped and drawn-in, with the shadow darker than in the original. On the inside, the text bleeds, as it wasn’t produced from a print-ready high quality file.

Counterfeit copy of Americanah on the right of the picture. The original is on the left.

Counterfeit copy of Americanah on the left of the picture. The original is on the right.

There. You have the information. Watch this post for updates. We will name and shame bookshops who sell pirated copies of our books.

VOGUE Comes Home to Americanah

Vogue Culture

Megan O’Grady describes AMERICANAH as, “a love story for our time”, in her review for US Vogue

“I have for a very long time wanted to write an unapologetic love story,” says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “But one that is very much set in a practical world affected by things like getting a visa and paying rent.”

The Nigerian author’s superb third novel, Americanah (Knopf), is that rare thing in contemporary literary fiction: a lush, big-hearted love story that also happens to be a piercingly funny social critique. A young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, comes to Philadelphia for college, where she’s continually told things like “It’s so sad that people live on less than a dollar a day in Africa.” With her boyfriend Obinze unable to get a visa, Ifemelu has relationships with two Americans: the Waspy, blithely entitled Curt, to whom she explains the significance of Essence magazine (a scene taken directly from Adichie’s own experience with an ex-boyfriend); and the hip African-American Yale professor, Blaine, who listens to Coltrane, eats quinoa, and refers to his friends as “cats.” Farafina's AMERICANAH

As it turns out, Ifemelu’s outsider perspective is precisely what makes her a shrewd analyst of American culture. She starts a blog: Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black. In it, she puzzles over the things she sees and the people she meets, writing tartly rueful posts with titles like “Not All Dreadlocked White American Guys Are Down” and “Badly-Dressed White Middle Managers from Ohio Are Not Always What You Think”—the latter about a man shunned by his neighbors after adopting a black child. Coinciding with Ifemelu’s racial awakening is the 2008 presidential election, and her excitement about the Obamas inspires riffs on everything from sexual politics to the future First Lady’s impeccably coiffed hair. “Imagine if Michelle Obama got tired of all that heat and decided to go natural… She would totally rock, but poor Obama would certainly lose the independent vote.”

Read the rest of the article here.

CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE WINS AMERICAN PRIZE

Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel AMERICANAH has been awarded the 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for fiction.

The Heartland Prize is a literary prize created in 1988 by the Chicago Tribune Newspaper.

According to Elizabeth Taylor, the literary editor of the Chicago Tribune, the prize is awarded yearly in two categories, fiction and non-fiction, to books that are concerned with American issues, causes and concerns.

“We loved AMERICANAH. It’s a powerful, resonant novel and we would be delighted to celebrate it and try to share it with a wider audience,” Taylor wrote.

“I’m very pleased,” Adichie said on receiving news of the prize. “You never know what will happen when you write a novel. And for me, a Nigerian, to have written this book which is partly about America, and to receive this quintessentially American prize means that I have said something about America as seen through Nigerian eyes that Americans find interesting. I take that as a wonderful compliment. It reminds me of the ability of literature to make us become briefly alive in bodies not our own.”

chim Past fiction winners of the Heartland Prize include Jonathan Franzen for his novel FREEDOM and Marilynne Robinson for her novel GILEAD

The prize will be awarded on November 3, 2013 at an audience-attended event hosted in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival in Chicago.

Buy Americanah at these Stores

Pick up your paperback and hardback copies of Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah at the following bookstores:

In Lagos:
Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Complex, Ikoyi.

The Hub Media Store, The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki.

Patabah, Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Surulere.

The Booksellers Limited,  Pan African University, LBS, Km 49 Lekki Expressway, Ajah

Laterna Bookstores,  13 Oko-Awo Close, off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island

Glendora, Ikeja City mall, Shoprite, Lagos.

Okoziko World Books, Local Airport, Departure Lounge, Ikeja.

 

In Abuja:

The Booksellers Limited, Ground Floor, City Plaza, opposite Biobak Restaurant, Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II

L&C Place, C19, Winnies Plaza, Abacha road, Mararaba, Abuja.

Readers Are Leaders Bookshop, Ceddi Plaza, Abuja.

 

In Port Harcourt:
Rainbow Bookshop, 20 Igbodo Street, Old G.R.A.

Chapters Books Limited, Bovatti Building, 78 Woji Road, G.R.A. Phase II

 

In Ibadan:
The Booksellers Limited, 52 Magazine Road, Jericho

 

In Enugu
Hidden Treasure bookstores, Enugu 07065693233.

 

In Uyo:

Boldoz bookstores, 21,Afaha Uqua Road, Eket,Akwa-Ibom.

On Race, Hair, and Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Americanah’

Book Review by Blessing Omakwu

AmericanahWhen I heard Chimamanda Adichie was writing a new book that drew heavily from hair and race as themes, I was excited for two reasons: first, because the bibliophile in me lives for everything Adichie writes; and second, because race and hair are familiar territories as an ex-member of the African diaspora in America. Indeed, one of my first adult memories of America involves both hair and race. Although I was born in America, my family moved to Nigeria when I was child, and I spent all of my adolescent years there. When I returned to America for university, I found that adjusting to the culture change was not as easy as I had imagined it would be. I will never forget the puzzled look on one of my Caucasian-male friends’ face when I sat next to him in the cafeteria one day during those first few weeks. I had just gotten a weave put in my hair, and it turns out he was wondering how my hair had miraculously grown so long since the previous day. I laughed and began to mumble something about the versatility of black hair when an African American female who was sitting across from us fired, “Don’t come here with yo’ African self tryna think you black!” It was then that I first realized being American and being African, did not give me a membership card to the African-American club.

On the surface, Americanah is a riveting love story between high school sweethearts, Ifemelu and Obinze, that starts in Lagos during a time of military dictatorship. With Obinze, Ifemelu was “at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.” The two are separated when Ifemelu moves to America amidst ongoing university strikes in Nigeria. In America, Ifemelu becomes aware of race, falls in love with her natural hair, explores an interracial relationship and becomes a prominent blogger. Obinze, on the other hand, moves to England where he battles loneliness and struggles to make a living working under the table jobs after overstaying his visa: “[he] lived in London indeed but invisibly, his existence like an erased pencil sketch.” Eventually, the two reunite in Lagos, where Obinze has become a ‘big boy’ and Ifemelu is struggling to carve a new career after being away from home for 13 years. In the end, Ifemelu and Obinze must make a very difficult decision.  But Americanah is more than a love story: it is a social critique and a dissection of the politics of identity.

What is genius about Americanah is that almost anyone can find something to relate to in it: there is no doubt that this novel will appeal to an even broader audience than Adichie’s previous work.  However, the virtue of Americanah–its ability to cut across 3 continents and multiple subject matters–may also be its vice. The book attempts to do too much by cramming so many complex topics (race, politics, hair, class, interracial relationships, the immigrant experience, nouveau Lagos, etc) into one story line. Several of her full-length blog posts with titles like: ‘To my Fellow Non-American Blacks: In America, You Are Black, Baby’ and ‘A Michelle Obama Shout-Out Plus Hair as Race Metaphor’ are included in the book. After a while, reading the blog posts can become cumbersome (they reminded me of all the assigned reading I had to do in law school for a critical race theory class). Also, at some points in the novel, the hair angle seemed forced (for starters, why was Ifemelu getting braids to go to Nigeria aka the land of cheaper and better braids?) and proselytistic. Interestingly, religion is subtly critiqued and slightly caricatured where explored: characters are found fasting themselves to sickness and diagnosing evil spirits.

Yet, the literary quality of Americanah is preserved despite its overt political tone and near nihilism. The characters are so fully developed and believable that you might think Adichie has met your friend, relative, classmate, or hair dresser. Unlike Purple Hibiscus and some of the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck, there is no unfinished business in Americanah. One leaves the novel at least certain of its conclusion, and at best satisfied by it.

Perhaps the only questions I had after reading the novel were about Adichie herself. There are pieces of the places Adichie has been littered throughout the book, such as Nsukka, Connecticut, Maryland and Yale. In the 24 hours during which I devoured Americanah, I found myself wondering: did she draw some of the dinner table intellectual banter from conversations she and her Doctor husband have had with their friends? And most importantly: how much of Ifemelu is Chimamanda?

In 2009, I had the privilege to meet Adichie during a book signing for The Thing Around Your Neck.  Alas, I echo the gratitude I gave her then for Americanah: thank you for giving a voice to the experiences that I have always remembered but sometimes forgotten how to articulate.

Republished with the author’s permission, this review first appeared on NigeriansTalk

This independent review does not represent the opinion of FarafinaBooks

Photos: The Release of the Nigerian Edition of Americanah

Chimamanda reading from Americanah

Chimamanda reading from Americanah

The audience

The audience

Chimamanda in conversation with Tolu Ogunlesi

Chimamanda in conversation with Tolu Ogunlesi

The audience

The audience

Chimamanda

Chimamanda

In Conversation

In Conversation

Question from a member of the audience

Question from a member of the audience

Question from a member of the audience

Question from a member of the audience

Adebola Rayo, Chinaku Onyemelukwe, Okey Adichie

Adebola Rayo, Chinaku Onyemelukwe, Okey Adichie

Question from a member of the audience

Question from a member of the audience

Chimamanda signing books

Chimamanda signing books

Chimamanda and her parents

Chimamanda and her parents

Chimamanda with Kachifo Ltd. staff

Chimamanda with Kachifo Ltd. staff

Many thanks to @obidaraphx for the photos