Americanah: A Tale Of Race, Love And Home

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. Weamericanah all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue. I didn’t think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”

The excerpt is from Adiche’s renowned novel Americanah. This is a powerful story about love, race and immigration. Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman living in Princeton, New Jersey, decides to move back to Nigeria after a breakup from her boyfriend Blaine. It was ten years ago when Ifemulu came to America from her home country Nigeria. During this period, she faced a lot of difficulties. The foremost obstacle was her skin colour.

In Nigeria, race was not an issue for Ifemelu, and she was never called black in Lagos; she was Nigerian. Upon arriving in the United States, she was shocked to discover that she had been labeled black; especially a non-American black. This made her start her own blog where she addressed issues related to race.

Other than that, the love story between Ifemulu and her teenage sweetheart Obinze is riveting. Their love story witnessed many ups and downs. During Ifemulu’s stay in the US, she suffered from depression and this became the reason of her detachment from Obinze. Later Obinze married Kosi and Ifemulu dated Curt and Blaine. But when Ifemulu came back to Nigeria, their love reignited. The author knows how to touch the heart chords of her readers. There is yearning for love which is engrossing.

Moreover, the author has also shown the importance of family values and blood relation in this story. Education is also central theme of this novel.

Rate: 4.5/5.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid tale

Photo by writer

It took me a while to digest Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. When I first start reading this novel, I had no clue what world I was about to discover and let me tell you it was all doom and gloom. The storyline was disturbing and stayed with me for days.

The Canadian author has hit all the right buttons to stir up the reader’s uneasiness. The dystopian world she describes in the novel is stark and skewed by religious fundamentalism. Written in 1985, the story revolves around Offred, a handmaid (female slave) in the new Republic of Gilead. The Gilead was formed after attacks on US government. The totalitarian state that took control has rigid laws against women. Women rights like equality, sexual reproduction rights and general human rights are deemed punishable by the men of the society. The fictional world has food rationing, class hierarchy and public hangings for wrongdoing especially for women. Does this ring a bell?

Offred (not the real name) is part of class called the handmaids. The purpose of handmaid in the society is to conceive and bear children for the families. They are dressed in red colour and symbolism of fertility. Women here are only considered for childbirth and taking care of household. The Commander, where she lives as handmaiden, sees her as more than simply a surrogate.  Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife, is naturally jealous of Offred, but she is desperate for a child so, when Offred fails to become pregnant, Serena Joy arranges for her to sleep with Nick, the chauffeur.

margaret atwood

Photo by writer

Offred is reluctant to accept this world and she cannot suppress her desires. This is why she thinks about her past life and how one day she can leave this dark world. The end of the story leaves you in suspense of whether Offred has found the freedom or prison.

The narration is very erratic as it jumps between past and present, and at times makes you confused due to obscure description. It is what author has emphasised to show in the novel. She wants readers to be perplexed while reading the novel because the world of Gilead is extremely disturbing and secretive.

The story is about power, fundamentalism and misogyny. It’s horrific but somewhat true to reality. I felt hopelessness and sadness while reading this story.

A word of caution: This is not a happy read. So if you want to have a nice weekend, do not pick this novel.

“Remember forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven.” – Excerpt from book

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Vintage Fiction, London

ISBN: 978-1-0-099-74091-9

320pp.

 

Unconditional Love

What happens when everything seems to fall apart in your life? You are confused and the first thing comes to your mind Why me? At first you feel sad then the anger takes charge over you and in that whirl of resentment, you begin to lose temper and unintentionally hurt your loved ones. Those loved ones who are part of you, your endeared parents! But you take them for granted because you know they won’t ever leave you.

The needs of fulfilling our wishes make us self-centered. We start to overlook our beloved ones.

True Relation

Sad but true! We do not give time to our family because we are ‘busy’ in our stuffs. I remember when my mother was injured in a road accident and the day before this particular incident I had a huge argument with her. Only because she needed my company and I had no time to listen her for even few minutes. She was upset and even I apologized for which she forgave me. Next on the day of accident, forgetting all what happened last night she accompanied me for my assignment. While finishing my work, we headed towards home and while crossing the road she was hit by the bike in front of my eyes. I saw her thrown away on the road from where she was. It was like a bad dream that came true. The entire world around me seemed to collapse, I was aghast with terror. She was lying on the road and me and my sister picked her up and took to the nearby hospital. She was unconscious but there were no tears in my eyes because I was in the state of shock. It was like life was slipping away from my hand. Whole one week I was in the status of uncertainty, but once she regained full conscious, she said,” I am sorry beta, I could not go with you  for your assignment but do not worry I will get fined soon and then I will take you.” I was out of words and tears started running from my eyes. If anything goes wrong in our life we hurt them either voluntarily or involuntarily but here she is, trying to console me.

Together, we find happiness

We all are in a rat race for something and we think that if we achieve that ‘amazing thing’, happiness will knock our door. We are never satisfied with whatever we get because we want more. We just crib about what we do not have rather being thankful to Almighty of what we have. Our family is the one that supports us in our trial times no matter what happens they are always with you. When you do not acquire what you want, they are there to encourage you. However we forget all this because we are so busy in trying to win the contest that we fail to see these loving gestures.