The Thing Around Your Neck: Summary and book reviews of The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, plus links to an excerpt from The Thing Around Your Neck and a biography of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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.
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).
Elle - Ben Dickinson
Like most of us–but perhaps more so–Adichie’s imagination seems fired by nostalgia for a lost childhood world at least as much as by the challenges of the ever-moving present tense that has swept it so unceremoniously, irretrievably away.
There are a couple of pieces that aren't as strong as the rest, but on the whole this is a very solid collection, with several exquisite stories that will take you to places you didn't know existed.
Vanity Fair - Elissa Schappell
The stories in The Thing Around Your Neck are so exquisite they grab you by the throat and stop your heart.
Adichie stays on familiar turf in her deflated first story collection.
Insightful and illuminating.
Adichie, a brilliant writer whose characters stay with you for a long time, deserves to be more widely known.
As richly modulated as MacArthur fellow Adichie’s hard-hitting novels are, her short stories are equally well-tooled and potent.
The Guardian (UK)
...some of the stories in this collection fall short of the acuity and accomplishment of her novels, so that one wonders if they perhaps come from an earlier period in Adichie's writing and have been dusted off for this collection.
The Sunday Times (London)
With its warm and sympathetic heroines and its finely cadenced prose, this collection demonstrates that [Adichie] is keeping faith with her talent and with her country.
Daily Express (UK)
While she writes of Nigeria with affection, Adichie never sees it through rose-tinted spectacles. ... The stories are compelling and diverse but make up a mere 218 pages – leaving the reader wanting more from this major African talent.
The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Adichie writes with an economy and precision that makes the strange seem familiar. She makes storytelling seem as easy as birdsong.
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