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'Americanah' Will Be an HBO Series Starring Lupita Nyong'o

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 2013 book is finally getting the TV adaptation it deserves.

by Kristin Corry
Sep 16 2019, 4:25pm

Image via Wikimedia Commons

After six long years, the wait for the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah is almost over. It isn't the feature film we were promised in 2014, but fans will be able to see Lupita Nyong'o play the book's lead, Ifemelu, in a new mini-series on HBO Max. The announcement did not include a release date, but it's a tease in every sense of the word.

The 10 episode HBO series is shaping up to be even better than expected. If Adichie and Nyong'o weren't enough of a selling point, Americanah is tapping Black Panther's Danai Gurira, along with Nyong'o, as executive producer. The film adaptation cast Selma's David Oyelowo as Obinze, Ifemelu's love interest, but whether or not Oyelowo is involved with the new project remains a mystery.

Americanah won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013, proving there was an appetite for authentic stories written by African writers like Adichie. The novel follows the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerian teenagers who are separated by their journeys to pursue an education in the West. Ifemelu heads for America, while Obinze moves to London, and the two must wrestle with their Blackness abroad without each other. Adichie, Nyong'o, and Gurira's involvement in Americanah is a welcome change in storytelling in the mainstream. From a Western perspective, African stories are typically framed as monolithic, instead of nuanced depictions that vary from country to country. Americanah tells a Nigerian love story from that perspective, and for that it seems poised to usher in a wave of literature and television that creates more space for African writers.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.