The Red Couch: Americanah introduction



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.


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?

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