Highlights from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There was something immodest about her modesty: it announced itself.

But Ifemelu had always sensed, in Sister Ibinabo, a deep-sown, simmering hostility to young girls. Sister Ibinabo did not like them, she merely watched them and warned them, as though offended by what in them was still fresh and in her was long dried up.

the easy relationship between two people who carefully avoided conversations of any depth.

He was tall and rangy, with the easy manner of the entitled.

She had always liked this image of herself as too much trouble, as different, and she sometimes thought of it as a carapace that kept her safe.

With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.

If you are not careful in this country, your children become what you don’t know.

Afterwards they would return to America to fight on the Internet over their mythologies of home, because home was now a blurred place between here and there, and at least online they could ignore the awareness of how inconsequential they had become.

It had to be that Americans were taught, from elementary school, to always say something in class, no matter what.

The wind blowing across the British Isles was odorous with fear of asylum seekers, infecting everybody with the panic of impending doom, and so articles were written and read, simply and stridently, as though the writers lived in a world in which the present was unconnected to the past, and they had never considered this to be the normal course of history: the influx into Britain of black and brown people from countries created by Britain.

They would not understand why people like him, who were raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things, so as to leave, none of them starving, or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for choice and certainty.

She wished she believed in the devil, in a being outside of yourself that invaded your mind and caused you to destroy that which you cared about.

He was left-leaning and well-meaning, crippled by his acknowledgment of his own many privileges.

They were the sanctified, the returnees, back home with an extra gleaming layer.

The best thing about America is that it gives you space. I like that. I like that you buy into the dream, it’s a lie but you buy into it and that’s all that matters.

But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward-looking, we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West their best is already past and so they have to make a fetish of that past.

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