Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly. Philadelphia had the musty scent of history. New Haven smelled of neglect. Baltimore smelled of brine, and Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage. But Princeton had no smell. She liked taking deep breaths here. She liked watching the locals who drove with pointed courtesy and parked their latest model cars outside the organic grocery store on Nassau Street or outside the sushi restaurants or outside the ice cream shop that had fifty different flavors including red pepper or outside the post office where effusive staff bounded out to greet them at the entrance. She liked the campus, grave with knowledge, the Gothic buildings with their vine-laced walls, and the way everything transformed, in the half-light of night, into a ghostly scene. She liked, most of all, that in this place of affluent ease, she could pretend to be someone else, someone specially admitted into a hallowed American club, someone adorned with certainty.I love the "delicately" overpriced shops and the "pointed" courtesy. I'm about a third of the way through, and it's the kind of book you can't wait to get back to in the evening after you've dispatched all the tasks of the day. You can read more from this first chapter here, on NPR's website.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel "Americanah": an excerpt
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I had listened to her read from a short story in a National Book Awards Author Events podcast, and the quality of her prose plus how charming and smart she was in the interview part really made me want to delve more into her work (all the prizes she's won didn't hurt either). There's also an older interview/reading with her on the BBC's World Book Club podcast site that's well worth listening to (re her previous novel, Half of a Yellow Sun). She hooked me completely with the first paragraph of Americanah: