Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which critics hailed as "one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years" (Baltimore Sun), with "prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes" (The Boston Globe); The Washington Post called her "the twenty-first-century daughter of Chinua Achebe." Her award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun became an instant classic upon its publication three years later, once again putting her tremendous gifts - graceful storytelling, knowing compassion, and fierce insight into her characters' hearts - on display. Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
In "A Private Experience," a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she's been pushing away. In "Tomorrow is Too Far," a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother's death. The young mother at the center of "Imitation" finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to reexamine them.
Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie's signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers.
The first time our house was robbed, it was our neighbor Osita who climbed in through the dining room window and stole our TV, our VCR, and the Purple Rain and Thriller videotapes my father had brought back from America. The second time our house was robbed, it was my brother Nnamabia who faked a break-in and stole my mothers jewelry. It happened on a Sunday. My parents had traveled to our hometown, Mbaise, to visit our grandparents, so Nnamabia and I went to church alone. He drove my mothers green Peugeot 504. We sat together in church as we usually did, but we did not nudge each other and stifle giggles about somebodys ugly hat or threadbare caftan, because Nnamabia left without a word after about ten minutes. He came back just before the priest said, "The Mass is ended. Go in peace." I was a little piqued. I imagined he had gone off to smoke and to see some girl, since he had the car to himself for once, but he could at least have told me where he was ...
One of Adichie’s greatest gifts is her ability to sketch the lives of her characters (mostly women), and to limn the differences between Nigeria and the United States with a few telling details... A lesser author would take the easy road of broadly painting these cultural differences so that one culture came across as superior to the other, but Adichie seldom falls into this trap.
(Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
Full Review (1241 words).
Nigeria has long been renowned for its distinguished literary history, which features such world-famous authors as Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, and Wole Soyinka. What many Westerners don't know, however, is that Nigeria also boasts a thriving movie-making industry, dubbed Nollywood in homage to both Hollywood and Bollywood (Indias film industry). Nollywood films, released directly to DVD, generate approximately $286 million per year for Nigerias economy; Nollywood distributors release around 2,400 per year to an eager audience that has essentially eschewed American films.
The traditional Nigerian film industry, unlike that of many other African countries, never really took off, with poverty and political uprisings ...
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