Monday, August 4, 2014

AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Best when she’s writing about race and culture. But the love story—the bulk of this novel—is ordinary and slo-o-o-ow. The protagonist, a Nigerian woman who moves to the U.S. and then back home, writes a social commentary blog (and makes a living at it; nice work if you can get it). The blog posts are the snappiest, freshest parts of the novel, but get weighed down in a nearly 600-page version of girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy again. I’m not giving anything away. You know what’s coming. Adichie’s Half a Yellow Sun was better. This is getting more attention, imho, because it hits certain PC high notes in its frank and on target discussion of being Black in America.

THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin

Very good

I subsist largely on a diet of contemporary literature. I don’t think much about it, until I read something else. Chopin’s slender, poignant novel about a woman in a unhappy marriage was written in 1899. It expresses emotions that are just as valid today, yet with a formal quality and language that mark it as not of this time. The ying-yang of the crisp, cultivated writing with the universal feelings worked on me like an elegant meal.

BREATHE by Kelly Kittel

My friend Kelly has written a frank, raw, brave memoir about losing two children, and embracing life with passion and vigor in the wake of soul-crushing tragedy.