Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Americanah

Plot Summary Part 1

This book starts in the present when a Nigerian named Obinze gets involved in a corrupt deal with an important tribal Chief. Tribal Chiefs are very important in Nigeria. This particular Chief gives Obinze the opportunity to buy properties artificially valued at low prices and then resell them at higher prices, in effect using government corruption to get himself (both of them) rich.

Then we flash back in time, and meet Ifemelu, a Nigerian girl. For some reason Ifemelu burns her used tampons rather than throwing them out. I guess she likes the smell of a good campfire. Her mom is a religious extremist who cuts off her own hair, burns it all, and then says that an angel appeared to her telling her to switch to another church. Mrs. Ifem talks constantly about religion.

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Her dad, Mr. Ifem, gets fired from his job because his boss insists Mr. Ifem call her "Mommy" and Mr. Ifem refuses. But after Mr. Ifem runs out of money he wishes he had stayed on the job and called his boss "Mommy".

Ifemelu got older and falls in love with Obinze. She called him "Ceiling" because when she was on her back, with him on top plowing into her, she was staring at the ceiling but was so excited by the plowing of his p_nis that she didn't think about the Ceiling. So her pet name for him involved how good he was at sex.  This is just the first of many examples of how crude Ifemelu is. (Can you imagine if Obinze called her "mattress"?)

Ifem's Auntie Uju tells Ifem it is ok to let Obinze kiss her but not to let him "put it inside" her. Ifem agrees completely and then lets Obinze put it all the way inside her, heh heh. Ifem has a pregnancy scare but it turns out to be a burst appendix. Afterwards Uju chides her, telling her to use a condom, for fear she might catch AIDS from Obinze. (Heh heh heh.)

Auntie Uju says that in Nigeria, the country has an ass-licking economy. As Auntie says:

"You know we live in an ass-licking economy. The biggest problem in this country is not corruption. The problem is that there are many qualified people who are not where they are supposed to be because they won't lick anybody's ass, or they don't know which ass to lick or they don't even know how to lick an ass. I'm lucky to be licking the right ass."

Auntie Uju is licking the ass of the "General", the ruler of Nigeria, and it tastes really good. She says the General respects her because like many Nigerian women, she had sex with him, but unlike the others, she didn't ask him for money afterwards, showing she was a high class mistress. (Or, at least, a more economical one.)

This pays off when Uju helps Ifem's father pay the rent. She shows up one day with a garbage bag filled with dollar bills to help Mr. Ifem pay two year's back rent. This is how the economy works in Nigeria.

Auntie Uju gets pregnant with the General's baby and gives birth to Dike. (Dike, heh heh.) But then the General dies in a plane crash. In Nigeria, the leader's plane crashing is the equivalent of elections in other countries. Auntie Uju realizes she has to run away or else she will be arrested for the General's corruption, so she takes Dike (Dike, heh heh--sorry, I can't stop laughing!), and flees to America.

Ifemelu soon joins her there. She wants to get work but does not have a work visa, so Uju arranges for her to use the social security number of another black person. Ifem says she looks nothing like this other person but Uju says not to worry, in America, all blacks look alike to white people.

Ifem is surprised to see people urinating against a wall in America. It reminds her of home in Nigeria but Auntie Uju says that it is only in bad neighborhoods that this is done.

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