Thursday, February 25, 2016

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hardback: 477 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Knopf 2013
Source:  Tywyn Public Library.
Favourite Quote: “The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.” 
Review Quote:‘A brilliant exploration of being African in America … an urgent and important book, further evidence that its author is a real talent’ Sunday Telegraph
Literary Awards: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction (2013)National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2013)Women's Prize for Fiction Nominee (2014)Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2014)

My Opinion:  I loved this even more than her two previous novels which I read when they were first published before I was writing reviews. I did not want this to end, it is a wonderful descriptive read about life for a black African when they move to America. What a different life it was for the female protagonist who did not even realise she was 'black' until she lived in America and learnt about racism. Love for her country as well as the man she left behind is a central theme and it is obvious that Adichie is passionate about her subject. Highly recommended to everyone.

Precis from Author's Website.

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.

Précis: Courtesy of Goodreads:
From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.

YouTube : An Interview with the Author:

Author Profile:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria on the 15th of September 1977, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At nineteen, Chimamanda left for the U.S. to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, then went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Her further studies were as a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and she earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.

It was during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel,  'Purple Hibiscus' which was published in 2003 and long listed for the Booker Prize. Her second novel 'Half of a Yellow Sun' won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards and has also appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review. She won a MacArthur 'genius' grant in 2009, and in 2010 appeared on the New Yorker's list of the best 20 writers under 40.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile   Amazon Author Page   Author Official Website

Friday, February 19, 2016

Too Busy to Spit by Scott Kelly

Paperback: 193 pages
Genre: Personal Memoir.
Publisher: Horizon Controls 2010 (This edition 2014)
Source: The author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: In the beginning God created earth. 
Favourite Quote: It is possible to think that the Chinese have been around since the beginning of time. They were contemporaries to the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mayans and Ottomans. They were there and they still are 'there'.

My Opinion: The author himself describes this interesting and readable little book about the Chinese, as an irreverent thirty year journey among the Chinese people. It is indeed at times a rather discourteous tirade but it is somehow very readable and I do not believe the Chinese at least the ones that know the author will have taken offence. A journey of mixed emotions, as he attempts to understand China and the Chinese people. I however am not sure I would have chosen the title he did. I suppose that 'spitting' is one of the few things that people that have little experience of China and the Chinese people seem to have heard is part of Chinese culture. Recommended to anyone with an interest in China and its people.

Précis: Courtesy of Goodreads:

As a young college graduate in 1980, Scott Kelly bought a one way ticket to Asia. His first stop was Hong Kong, and although he didn't know it at the time, it was the beginning of a 25 year journey, as a tourist, business operator, and visitor to China. Based in Hong Kong, but with business in Shenzhen and Shanghai, Kelly made just about every mistake in the book, yet still retained an affection for China and the Chinese people around Asia.

While most books on the subject are academic, or cover a short time frame, Kelly's book is a personal journey from 1980 to 2008, that contains lots of humor as well as hardship, and a personal reflection on China's present day and how the timelessness of China will never go away. For anyone planning to do business in China this is a great introduction, as Kelly was one of the first foreigners to open a business in China in 1986, and still does business there to this day.

For anyone interested in the Chinese people the book includes chapters on the overseas Chinese in Asia and America as well. A timely read about a timeless subject.

Author Profile:

Scott Kelly first stepped foot in Hong Kong in 1980, for a one week stopover. He was immediately captivated and it soon became the place he could never leave.
In his enthusiasm for everything Chines, he opened a business in China in 1986, onlt to lose everything at the time of Tienanmen Square.

The biographical information is from the back cover of the book and Amazon