I thought I’d review these two books together seeing as how I’ve read both of them this week and they offer distinct views of Africa. Alexander McCall Smith’s series is incredibly popular ( now in its fourteenth book) and follows the story of Mma Ramotswe, Botswana’s first and only female detective. Americanah is a more literary work and NY Times Bestseller that has been recommended to me from almost every avenue of the publishing world.
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I’ve been reading this series for years and have always loved the way McCall Smith captures the essence of a changing Africa. Mma Ramotswe is uniquely perceptive and refreshing as a character and the events in this new addition to the series had me dashing through the book. It’s not my usual fare but the series is a delight to read.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Looking over my reviews, I’m a pretty happy reader. I can usually find something special or intriguing about a book and don’t post too many negative reviews. That being said, I had a hard time dragging myself through Americanah. The scope was impossibly large, the story told over three continents, many years, and multiple characters, and seemed to get sidetracked often. The two main characters, Ifemulu and Obinze, were interesting and thorough characters but too much of the story was spent elsewhere. Ifemulu’s blog posts contained exciting and provoking comments on American society but they were thrown at the end of long narratives to wrap up chapters and bundle up the moral of the story. Ngozi Adiche is a quickly rising literary star and I see so much potential in this novel. It’ll come, I’m sure of that but it’ll come even quicker with a gifted editor with some editorial focus.