Americanah, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, accounts Ifemelu’s transition from her secure lifestyle in Nigeria to the challenges of American racism. Just over a year ago, Lupita Nyong’o announced her starring role as Ifemelu in the book to movie adaption produced by Brad Pitt’s company Plan B (which also produced 12 Years a Slave). But since then, discussion surrounding the Americanah movie silenced.
In this quiet time, here’s a warning: read the book first. Not as an attempt to swerve spoilers or simply beat the box office, but to become a responsible and sympathetic citizen. Book summaries and reviews often frame Americanah as love story, belittling the book’s assiduous discussion on racism. The novel’s observations aren’t flattering, but neither are reality’s headlines. Adichie reflects on a wide scope of Americans’ treatment toward immigrants and minorities. Many race observations- slipped into a small anecdotes, character developments, Ifemelu’s blog, and plot twists- will be shaved by a movie’s time limitations.
Ifemelu and Obineze, her former Nigerian boyfriend, will share commentary Americans manage to ignore. Like, why don’t Americans learn to pronounce foreign names correctly? How do Americans, with good intentions but oblivious remarks, treat friends in biracial relationships? In fear that the movie may dramatize the romance plot and underplay criticism- read the book first. As a critically acclaimed novel, the movie announcement received press. With more movie development, news will resurface- but don’t just wait to see the film. Especially amongst devastating racially-charged attacks and before another presidential election, see how Americanah can change perspectives permanently.