Americanah Is Wheelock’s Summer Reading Selection

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Wheelock College has chosen Americanah — a novel by award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — as its community summer reading selection.

americanahThe novel tells a story about two Nigerian teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze, who fall in love. Nigeria is under military dictatorship, so people are leaving the country. Ifemelu departs for the United States to study. Through her experiences in relationships and studies, she struggles with racism in American culture and its many varieties of racial distinctions. Obinze hoped to join her but is refused a visa after 9/11. Instead, he goes to London illegally, beginning an undocumented life.

Years later, Obinze has returned to Nigeria and become a wealthy property developer in the newly democratic country. Ifemelu gained success in the United States, where she became known for her blog about race in America. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, the two have to make difficult decisions after reviving their relationship.

The book received the 2013 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review. Also, Adichie was short-listed for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction of the United Kingdom. A contemporary interpretation of a coming-of-age novel, Americanah will offer the Wheelock community — especially first-year students — an opportunity to reflect on our own paths to education, love, and careers in a global context.

All incoming Wheelock students, along with faculty and staff, will read the book over the summer and will discuss its themes in small groups during Fall Orientation.