What They're Reading: Elena Schneider
Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
What She’s Reading:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Schneider is a scholar of Latin American history, particularly Cuban history, interested in African diaspora and the Atlantic. Her current project, The Occupation of Havana, examines the British siege and occupation of Havana in 1762 and the way in which people of African descent played a crucial role during this affair that is often disregarded by scholars.
The novel, Americanah, interests Schneider particularly because it “does a brilliant job capturing the contradictions of how race is lived and experienced in the U.S. from the perspective of a young Nigerian woman who comes here for college and then returns home.” Americanah, which has been well received and described as a “social satire disguised as a romantic comedy,” is written by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of Half of a Yellow Sun. Published in 2013, this contemporary novel aptly discusses issues of race that still pervade the lives of both Americans and immigrants, according to critics.
Adichie’s work has been translated into thirty different languages. She has received several awards for her work, such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Orange Prize, People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. In addition, she received the MacArthur Fellowship in 2008. While Adichie was born and raised in Nigeria, she now spends her time both there in the United States.
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