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Reading Programs, Resources, and Communities: Americanah

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Also available as an ebook.

About the Author

ChimamandaChimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscuswhich won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and, most recently, the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck.

A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
~ From the book jacket

Book Discussions

Four sequential discussions will be held. Please mark your calendar and do your best to attend all four.

All discussions will take place on Mondays, noon - 1:00 pm in Glatfelter Lodge or Library 18 (see email for your assignment).

  • 2/6/17, discuss chapters 1-10
  • 2/13/17, discuss chapters 11-23
  • 2/20/17, discuss chapters 24-40
  • 2/27/17, discuss chapters 41-end

Questions to Consider

Questions for Week 1:

  • What identities come into play in the first part of the book? What are they and how do they intersect? [listen for race, nationality, gender, class, religion, immigration status…]
  • What character most intrigues you and why?
  • Did you bring other questions or topics you want to discuss?

Questions for Week 2:

  • Who are the “kept women” in this book?
  • How do different characters’ immigration experiences differ and why?
  • How does Ifemelu’s experience as an international student compare to that of international students at Gettysburg
  • What other questions did you bring? 

Questions for Week 3:

  • Ifemelu’s and Obinze’s stories finally come together in this section. There are some interesting similarities about their immigrant experiences in the U.S. and England. What did you notice?
  • Characters have a way of “switching places” a lot in this novel, at least in terms of their circumstances and positions in society. At what points did you, the reader, realize this – and at what points do the characters realize it? Did this prompt any reflection about your own life?
  • Ifemelu experiences infatuation and dissatisfaction with both Curt and Blaine. Do you see a pattern developing, or are these relationships quite different?
  • How do you think mental illness is negotiated and/or ignored by different characters?

Questions for Week 4:

  • How do you think mental illness is negotiated and/or ignored by different characters? Is it different in the U.S. and in Nigeria? (This is one of last week’s questions with a new twist.)
  • Compare Ifemelu’s reentry to Nigeria with her early months in the U.S. – what’s similar and what’s different?
  • What do you think about the ending? Are you surprised? Do you “approve”?
  • Is Americanah an “American” novel? (this question posed by a literature scholar in one of the groups)
  • How do the themes in this book relate to our studies and/or work at Gettysburg College?

More questions are available from the publisher

Shared by readers

This box contains links to resources shared by #GBCTalks participants!