I have a rule – one I think most readers share – to read the book first. In the case of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” that was easy, as no screen adaptation had yet been made. But Book Riot recently reported that plans are afoot to make a mini-series (rather than a film). And I’m excited …
It’s more usual for my excitement to be tinged with a “what will they leave out, or get wrong?” feeling when a book I love is due to be adapted for screen. Being made into a mini-series should certainly help to limit the first issue. The fact that the rights have been acquired by Lupita Nyong’o (who came to prominence after her Academy Award-winning role in 12 Years a Slave) also suggests this adaptation could well be in safe hands.
Nyong’o is Kenyan-Mexican. Born in Mexico City, she spent most of her childhood in Nairobi. Even better news is that Nyong’o has brought Danai Gurira on board as writer. Whilst Gurira is an American, she is also fluent in Shona – her parents having moved to the US from Zimbabwe. Wiki also reports that Gurira “.. began writing plays in an effort to better utilize her strengths as an actor, and to tell stories that convey ideas about strong women with whom she identifies”.
Why is the background of these two powerful black actresses important? Well, if you view Americanah as just the love story of Efemelu and Obinze, you’ve missed out. Americanah is very much an examination of race yes, but more so about the differences between black American and black African. In the novel, Efemelu’s blog encapsulates this process of examination, but Adichie also takes us along with Efemelu as she crystalises her thoughts and ideas.
Knowing that this adaptation is in the hands of these two women, each of whom strongly identify with their African past, whilst living and working in America – I’m excited, I really am. This adaptation could actually deliver the best of this marvellous book – one of my favourite reads ever.
© Debra Carey, 2018