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Summary and book reviews of The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Thing Around Your Neck

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Thing Around Your Neck
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2009, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2010, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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About this Book

Book Summary

Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie's signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.

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.

CELL ONE

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 mother’s 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 mother’s green Peugeot 504. We sat together in church as we usually did, but we did not nudge each other and stifle giggles about somebody’s 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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Book
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" (The 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 ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews

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.

Seattle Times

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.

Publishers Weekly

Adichie stays on familiar turf in her deflated first story collection.

Kirkus Reviews

Insightful and illuminating.

Library Journal

Adichie, a brilliant writer whose characters stay with you for a long time, deserves to be more widely known.

Booklist

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.

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.

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.

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Beyond the Book

Nollywood
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 (India’s film industry). Nollywood films, released directly to DVD, generate approximately $286 million per year for Nigeria’s 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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