Bean's Books and Beyond

Sharing thoughts on books–and sometimes on education and life

Americanah by Ngozi Adichie (2013) November 25, 2017

Filed under: book reviews,Fiction — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 8:52 pm
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Aside from a somewhat disappointing ending, I appreciated this story, specifically its Nigerian perspective of being a non-American black in America.  I don’t think I often enough distinguished the Black experience into its many subcategories, but I feel 81PwSNLlMpL

at the very least more informed now. In a nutshell, the story centers around Ifemelu who leaves Nigeria during her university years for America where she succeeds in school and in her career, becoming a successful blogger (though not without numerous setbacks in her early years, including unemployment and poverty).  Yet, she feels as if she never quite fits in. Left behind in Nigeria is her boyfriend, Obinze, who eventually emigrates to London but never escapes the pitfalls of undocumented life, eventually returning to Nigeria.  At times a little rambling, she tackles numerous issues in this book: Nigerian politics and corruption, immigration (US and England), race, interracial dating, love, and more. Good–but not great–writing, its rawness gave me a better understanding of the frustrations of each of these issues.  Perhaps what I liked most were the blog entries, the most interesting titled “Friendly Tips for the American Non-Black: How to React to an American Black Talking about Blackness.” So even though she’s a non-American Black, she has much to say about both the non-American Black experience and the American Black experience.

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**Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2008) December 29, 2010

Filed under: Bean's favorites,book reviews,Fiction — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 7:55 pm
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It’s been a while since I’ve read a book this good (perhaps since Birds without Wings last September), and I read it a while ago, but even with my weak memory, I can still see Little Bee on the Nigerian beach with her sister and I can see Sarah’s finger chopped off and I can see Nkirura swaying back and forth on the tire swing.  The images, the reality, and the power of this story resonated for weeks.  I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it.   I picked up this book at a friend’s house and read the first two sentences: “Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.  Everyone would be pleased to see me coming.”  That’s all I needed to buy the book.  And once I started reading, I found myself saying over and over how could he write this well?  How could he pull this off? This is a male author writing a story narrated by a Nigerian girl who learns the “Queen’s English” from reading and listening to the BBC in her cell of a detention center where she spent two years after hiding in the hold of a cargo ship from Africa to Britain.  The other narrator is Sarah, a British magazine editor who had the fortunate–or unfortunate–luck to run into Little Bee on a Nigerian Beach where local thugs were after her.  Little Bee spends the rest of the story running form the men who came for the oil under the ground where she lived.  So this is a story about power, violence, oil, asylum, guilt, grief, and love.  An excerpt from Little Bee’s narration: “Everything was happiness and singing when I was a little girl.  There was plenty of time for it.  We did not have hurry.  We did not have electricity or fresh water or sadness either, because none of that had been connected to our village yet. . .in that village we did not yet know was built on an oil field and would soon be fought over by men in a crazy hurry to drill down into the oil.  This is the trouble with all happiness–all of it built on top of something that men want (78).”  Aside from the last 50 pages (which almost seemed as if they were written by another author), this book is fabulous and frightening and important.  (fiction)

 

 
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