Feed on

One of the things that caught my attention over the course of the book was Ifemelu’s choices in literature. She is an extraordinarily intelligent woman, yet she is often reading Essence magazine, amongst other “racially skewed” and seemingly beneath her works. In earlier scenes I remember Obinze trying to convince her to read more of  American classics such as Huckleberry Finn, and Ifemelu not even being able to finish them she was so bored. Her taste in literature is questioned in all of her relationships, even with Curt, who I don’t remember being the smartest of guys. This greatly confused me for a couple of reasons. Why would Ifemelu read things that are so below the caliber that she is at, that everyone seems to notice and question it? Personally, I need to read things that are intellectually stimulating or else I get bored. When something is too easy, or doesn’t get me thinking enough, it does not feel like it is worth my time, and I was wondering if there was a deeper reason as to why Ifemelu seems to avoid reading well-known and respected works?

The second question this leads me to is why does everyone feel the need to comment on the particular things she chooses to read? I am questioning her because I’m a student and need something to discuss and this stood out to me, but why are her boyfriends concerned with how she chooses to occupy her time? A line that caught my eye and really made me think can be found on page 417 when Shan stated, “You can’t write an honest novel about race in this country. If you write about how people are really affected by race, it’ll be too obvious.” I want to know a little bit more on where she is coming from, what will be too obvious? I thought that this was interesting because by including this line Adichie is drawing attention to whether or not her story is actually an honest novel. She herself has opened the door to that conversation with her audience, and I think that is incredibly brave and powerful, to question yourself and your ability to create an honest interpretation within your own story. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that done before, but I really loved and respected it.

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