Feed on

Chimamanda Adiche says that a lot of the American readers of Americanah don’t seem to understand the humor of the story.  As an American, I agree with her – I think a lot of what was supposed to be funny went over my head.  I was able to pick out things that seemed sardonic, but not much of the story was outright funny to me.  With that being said, there was one scene that really stood out to me as an accurate portrayal of one part of society in the US.

Marcia’s surprise birthday party on pages 399-409 struck me as darkly funny.  Everyone is either too pretentious or too cautious; no one says what they really think.  The characters in this chapter are the kind of people who give proponents of organic produce bad names.  One woman remarks “‘We humans are not supposed to eat with utensils'” as she picks at her collard greens with her fingers (402).  This image is wholly ridiculous and almost made me laugh aloud, which is probably what Adiche intended.  Most of the people who make up Blaine’s friend group are those who imagine they know more about the human condition than someone else – the type of people who drive both Ifemelu and myself insane.

Ifemelu feels disconnected from Blaine’s friends.  They don’t seem to want to learn about things outside their fields, and are stuck in their own views of society.  Ifemelu grew up in a much different situation than the native citizens in this scene; her experiences make her bring a completely different perspective to everything that happens not only in this scene, but everything in the book.  This also what makes her race blog so compelling.  As a “non-American black,” she interprets things differently than American blacks, and differently than Americans in general, regardless of race.



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