Alice Walker is never an author to fail or disappoint her fans and readers. Walker in Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down thoroughly engages the mind of the womanist/black feminist. Although written in the 1980s, many of the short stories within the book are very much relevant today and I would venture to say may even awaken the womanist/black feminist thoughts of women who have yet to identify with either of the two labels. Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down explores the factors that shape the lives of black women, such as cultural appropriation, rape, abortion, pornography, misogyny, and the sexual objectification of the bodies of women to name a few. Of the thirteen short stories within the book I provide you with a brief summary of the two on the short stories that I’d have to say were my favorite.
How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State? It Was Easy
In How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State? It Was Easy, Walker explores the physical and mental rape of a 14 year old black girl. The protagonist was first raped when she was 12. As the protagonist recounts her story, the raping of little black girls is viewed as something normal and not rare during the times and society that she grew up in.
“It was nothing for a girl or woman to be raped. I was raped myself, when I was twelve, and my Mama never knew and I never told anybody. For, what could they do? It was just a boy, passing through. Somebody’s cousin from the North.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche does it, yet again, bringing to life unforgettable characters, while also dissecting issues surrounding race, gender/feminism, and culture.
The award winning author of Half of A Yellow Sun (also one of my favorite books), most recent novel Americanah invites you into the life of Ifemelu; an opinionated, self assured, strong willed Nigerian born woman. Ifemula recounts her life growing up in a military dictated Lagos, Nigeria. We watch Ifemelu navigate the race related complexities as a NAB (non-American Black), a newly arrived immigrant to the United States; leaving everything behind in Nigeria including her lover Obinze. Through Ifemelu’s journey, Adiche, unravels the complex issue of race through the perspective of a NAB, suddenly introduced to the backwards concept accompanied by its injustices that grips the lives of American Born Blacks. The novel explores the various facets of race in America, through Ifemelu’s experiences while dating Curt, a handsome, ridiculously rich White man and an American born, Harvard educated Black man, Blaine. Yet despite vast differences in race relations between Nigeria and the United States—(the concept of race almost nonexistent in Nigeria); Ifemelu triumphs in spite the racial challenges experienced. The novel also explores gender/feminism, although very subtly. Adiche explores through Ifemelu’s experiences with Blaine and Curt the tendency for women to often suppress who they are in acquiescence to their lovers.
Americanah is a beautifully written novel that exposes us to the rich Nigerian culture juxtapose to American societal fallacies relating to race and how Nigerian born immigrants are able to excel on foreign land. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is sure to have you nodding your head in agreement and wanting more upon reading the last sentence of its ending page.
Leave your comments on your thoughts of Americanah.