This chapter examines the ethical and political inquiry at the center of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel, Americanah, published in 2013. The thinking of Sara Ahmed and Judith Butler helps elucidate the text’s exploration of emotion’s part in othering encounters and social structures as well as its posing of ethical reorientation and answerability. Ostensibly, Americanah offers a dual third-person narrative focus on the mirroring and contrasting migrant lives of Ifemelu and Obinze, and Adichie discusses how she draws on realist traditions in crafting a romance plot between the two characters. Yet, in order to shape her world of stratified, intersectional black identities, global migrant economics and invidious gender protocols—a world of compromise, false positions, entitlement and precarious self-realization—Adichie has made a more complex use of frame narrative, point of view and narrative alignment than previously recognized. Indeed, attention to the novel’s narrative contours and metafictional aspects allows a new understanding of the interrelation drawn between affect, ethics and social position. This opens the possibility of approaches to ethics and literature that are reinvigorated via ideological and narratological awareness.
Terry, J. (2020). “She was miraculously neutral”: Feeling, Ethics and Metafiction in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. In J. Wyatt, & S. George (Eds.), Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers: Race: Ethics: Narrative Form (33-51). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429199271