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April 29, 2013

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – review

AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel is a superb dissection of race in the UK and the USA

By Elizabeth Day

There are some novels that tell a great story and others that make you change the way you look at the world. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is a book that manages to do both.

 It is ostensibly a love story – the tale of childhood sweethearts at school in Nigeria whose lives take different paths when they seek their fortunes in America and England – but it is also a brilliant dissection of modern attitudes to race, spanning three continents and touching on issues of identity, loss and loneliness.

This is Adichie’s third and most ambitious novel – her first, Purple Hibiscus, was longlisted for the Booker prize and her second, Half a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. A highly acclaimed 2009 collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, cemented her position as one of the most promising African writers of her generation. She was awarded a prestigious MacArthur “Genius” grant and in 2010, the New Yorker featured her in its list of the 20 best authors under the age of 40.

So a lot is expected of her. Gratifyingly, Americanah does not disappoint.

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March 25, 2013

Junot Díaz wins world’s richest short story prize

DiasAmerican author Junot Díaz, winner of both a Pulitzer and a MacArthur “genius” grant, has beaten a strong lineup of British writers to take the world’s richest prize for a single short story.

Díaz’s story, “Miss Lora”, is about a high-school-age boy having a relationship with an older woman in 1980s New Jersey, and is written in the “Spanglish” for which the Dominican-born writer is known. It beat entries from top British authors including Mark Haddon, Ali Smith and Sarah Hall to be named winner of the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story prize.

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