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Join award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in conversation with British novelist Zadie Smith about her dazzling novel, Americanah. Adichie, one of the leading contemporary voices of postcolonial literature, explores the themes of identity and globalization in this rich novel. Americanah was named one of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year 2013.
“With this new book Adichie has scaled up, traversing three genres (romance, comedy of manners, novel of ideas) three nations, and within each, a broad swath of social spectrums. It is a book about identity, nationality, race, difference, loneliness, aspiration, and love. On top of [a] familiar narrative scaffolding, a love story, Adichie builds an altogether different tale: one about all the ways we humans fail to love each other. . . . Adichie notices nearly everything, from how we socialize to what we eat to what we say. Adichie has a keen inner ear. She is uncommonly sensitive to the space between people, the way it ripples with all kinds of invisible forces: physical beauty, economic discrepancy, sexual attraction, intellectual appraisal, guilt, resentment, envy, need. In America, she recognizes, the most potent of all the invisible strings—the strong nuclear force of our social physics—is race. Adichie’s analysis of that force is specific, damning, clarifying, and comprehensive. She is merciless about white liberal attitudes toward race, with their prevailing mix of awkward self-consciousness, contented ignorance, self-satisfaction, and submerged fear. But she is equally caustic about everyone else’s anxious racial jostling. I found myself laughing—ruefully, from recognizing myself and my country, but also delightedly, from recognizing an echo. . . . In Americanah, Adichie is to blackness what Philip Roth is to Jewishness: its most obsessive taxonomist, its staunchest defender, and its fiercest critic. Stories of immigrants adjusting to the United States are as central to American literature as they are to the American Dream. But Americanah [is] a new kind of migration story: a Great Global Novel.”
—Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
Chimamanda 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 Hibiscus, which 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.
Zadie Smith was born in Northwest London in 1975. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, the essay collection Changing My Mind, and NW.