I didn’t read anything this week. I couldn’t. I pulled together a stack of hefty thrillers to get me through the next month or so, the kinds of books into which a frustrated American might escape in moments of desperation. But this week I stumbled through in a kind of daze—surface-calm while emotionally experiencing something akin to the final scene in Se7en. Kevin Spacey is Donald Trump, Brad Pitt is America, and Morgan Freeman is the rest of the world. We’re all just waiting to see what’s in that fucking box.
But books aren’t far from my mind. Over the past few days, I’ve found myself thinking back to things I’ve read that resonate just as strongly, or more strongly, now as before. Books that seem prescient in light of Tuesday’s results, even if (and I sincerely hope this is true) the specter of a Trump presidency proves scarier than the actuality.
I know, aggregating yourself is a bit douchey. But I hope you’ll cut me some slack in these trying, exhausting times. Continue reading
There are few ways to feel whiter than to read a novel written from the perspective of a Nigerian woman who moves to America and discovers how it feels to be black.
More than a decade after coming to America from Lagos, Nigeria, Ifemelu has it pretty good. She’s got a fellowship at Princeton and a handsome professor boyfriend, and makes a decent living writing an anonymous blog about race in the U.S. But Ifem is plagued by thoughts of her past, both in a macro sense—could the only thing righter than leaving Nigeria be going back?—and in a literal one: Ifem’s teenage sweetheart ex, Obinze, is still in Lagos. Granted, he’s married now, but she finds herself thinking about him all the same.
If this sounds like a worldly set up for what is otherwise a traditional “guy meets girl, guy fucks it up with girl, guy and girl eventually reunite” love story, it isn’t. The story of Ifemelu and Obinze is at once traditional and not, and overall far more emblematic of the complications of uprooting one’s life for the ephemeral promise of America than it is of a humdrum long-distance romance. This is not Nicholas Sparks goes to Africa. (Besides, we all know Sparks only writes about white people.) Continue reading