The Red Couch: Americanah introduction

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JULY-RedCouch

When it comes to fiction, I’m of the persuasion that the less you know beforehand, the better off you’ll be. The jacket copy gives you the overview and perhaps a friend offers their take, informing whether you’ll pick up a copy or not.

Here’s the thing: jacket copy can be misleading. Some books are better than any description could say. Sometimes we miss out on a good thing because we believe it’s not our genre, it’s not our usual go-to. Or sometimes you start reading and realize the description missed the mark in more than a few ways.

Here’s the other thing: reviews from critics and friends alike can influence our perception. When everyone praises a novel to high heaven, you might feel letdown once you actually read it—your expectations were heightened as a result of those rave reviews. When someone dismisses or picks a book apart, you might read with low expectations or hoping to prove the reviewer wrong.

The point is fiction is subjective and subjective beyond our taste and reading history.

Since our next two books (Americanah in July and A Prayer for Owen Meany in August) are fiction, I’m going to let the copy speak for itself. Our fiction picks aren’t beach reads, though you’re certainly welcome to read them at the beach. But they are compelling and sure to provoke discussion. That is to say, you’ll probably have an opinion about what you’ve read.

We look forward to hearing it.

Americanah, from the Amazon description:

“A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.

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.”

Americanah raises questions about race, class, gender, and so much more. You may not always agree with or understand the main characters’ choices but I urge you to grapple with them. Consider what you would do. It’s worth entering the world Adichie has created for us.

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Come back Wednesday July 23 for a discussion post led by D.L. Mayfield. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc.

Will you be reading Americanah with us?

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Leigh Kramer
Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee, followed by San Francisco, quit steady job as a social worker to chase her dreams of writing, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at LeighKramer.com and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.
Leigh Kramer

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  • GretchenWright

    Hi! I began Americanah a few weeks ago and am reading slowly and am finding it to be just as the description above states. I’m eager to join in!

  • sarahfarish

    I rarely read fiction. I am not sure why; I just don’t usually choose it. But, I feel drawn this book…think i shall give a go:)

    • A couple of friends who rarely read fiction read Americanah and really liked it. Hope the same will be true of you!

  • sandyhay

    I love fiction..I think I learn lots about life and people in an amazing vicarious way. I’m starting to read it when my grandsons take their naps today.

    • That’s why I love fiction, too! Happy reading, Sandy.

  • Saskia Wishart

    I am a sucker for fiction… so have been eagerly awaiting this month’s book!!

  • I have already started it and am making myself slowly work my way through it, as I am a pretty fast reader and tend to read fiction hell-bent on finding out the ending versus slowing down to take in the story as it develops. So here’s to slowing down and really grasping it. Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts! — Kallie Culver

    • That’s the kind of reader I am too, Kallie!

  • I read it on the plane home on Sunday and finished it in a jet lagged haze on Monday. It was the perfect book for me with which to re-enter North America after time with my South African family in Europe. She nailed so much of the immigrant experience for me. Can’t wait to read the discussion.