Friday, May 9, 2014

"Novels Written by Young and Youngish Men"

Soon after I started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Americanah,” (about which I will likely blog soon), I ran across the following passage, which resonated for me. The main character, Ifemelu (a Nigerian woman educated in the United States), thinks about the differences between books her American boyfriend Blaine likes and those she likes. Blaine speaks “in that gently forbearing tone he used when they talked about novels, as though he was sure that she, with a little more time and a little more wisdom, would come to accept that the novels he liked were superior, novels written by young and youngish men and packed with ‘things,’ a fascinating, confounding accumulation of brands and music and comic books and icons, with emotions skimmed over, and each sentence stylishly aware of its own stylishness” (p. 12). I have to say her description both rang true and made me smile with recognition. Of course I would never claim this description was true for all male writers, or even all "young and youngish" American male writers; this is far from the truth. But there is certainly a subset of young male writers who are rather accurately described by this passage. I have sometimes felt that I “should” appreciate and like such novels, but at a certain point I got over that feeling. I can’t help applauding Adichie’s offhand but razor-sharp critique!


  1. Thanks, Mary! Yes, it really jumped out at me. (And I forgot to add, although it is pretty obvious, that the boyfriend's condescending tone makes the situation even worse...)


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