Spring Is ‘Americanah’ Season in NYC
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The city selects Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel about Nigerian immigrants for its inaugural “One Book, One New York” program
Life in the big city can be lonely and isolating, and yes, it often seems all but impossible to start up a conversation with a neighbor who’s been living across the hall for five years, never mind your fellow straphangers or that stranger in the coffee shop. But what if we were all reading the same book? And I’m sorry, William H. Macy, but what if that book wasn’t A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Today, “One Book, One New York” — the book club spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office and Buzzfeed Books, billed as “the largest community reading program in the country” — announced that after tallying up almost 50,000 votes, it was ready to name the book all of NYC will soon be reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The novel tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, two young Nigerians who get out from under the thumb of military rule — Ifemelu to New York City and academia, Obinze to London and the limbo of undocumented immigrants. Later in life, they reunite in their homeland. For the rest, you’ll need to get to your local bookstore or library branch. (Penguin Random House is donating copies; Scribd is offering a free audio book.)
Americanah was first released by Anchor Books (Knopf) in 2014. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction that year and was named a top-10 book of the year by The New York Times. In a video released by “One Book, One New York,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichietold told the city what it meant that her book had been selected as Gotham’s inaugural read.
And in case you’re worried that this is going to be like that book club where everyone sort of reads a few chapters and then forgets about the book as soon as the wine comes out, don’t be. This is only the start of a season of events dedicated to Americanah and the conversation it’s sure to inspire. Along with the book selection, “One Book, One New York” released a calendar of events, including readings, festival events, salons, meet-ups, movie screenings and a grande finale at the New York Public Library.
The runners-up in the competition were Between the World and Me by Ta-Neshi Coates, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and The Sellout by Paul Beatty. The celebrity nominators were Larry Wilmore, Giancarlo Esposito, Bebe Neuwirth (who nominated the winner), Danielle Brooks, and William H. Macy, the star of the 2007 film, Wild Hogs.
When you’re done with Americanah, why not read all the nominees?