It is all too easy to notice all the things which make an immigrant instantly different: unfashionable clothing, a funny accent, distinct hairstyles, curiosities in lunch boxes. As easy as it is to see these differences, it is just as easy to take for granted all the struggles an immigrant faces – working in a job often below the level of what they were qualified for back home, the constant uncertainty of work permits and visa applications, the pressure of providing for a family back home and proving to all those back at home that you have somehow made it and all the while convincing yourself that this new life is better than the one you would have had in the home you abandoned.

Reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes you see and understand all of this in a thought-provoking, amusing, cringeworthy and heart-breaking manner. It tells the story of 2 childhood sweethearts from Nigeria separated by their desire to carve out a life for themselves in the West. The story takes them to America and England, with each country posing a different set of obstacles and challenges. Reading it has made me think back and reflect on my own family’s story when we arrived in England all those years ago and all that we have been through since. But it also made me think of the Portuguese gardener I opened the door to when visiting a friend in London recently, or the chit-chat with the waiter whose accent I couldn’t quite place when we had breakfast in the local high street the following morning. Whether you can find parallels in this book or not, it will force you to think again about race, about integration and about citizenship. And it will surely lend a new perspective to every interaction you have with a foreigner.