The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4 out of 5 stars.
Bought at the Book Shop in Penticton.
Read in June 2014.
- “Cell One” — Nnamabia, the teenage brother who’s getting into trouble, ends up in jail.
- “Imitation” — Nkem, the wife who lives in “America”* with her children, while her husband, a Big Man, lives in Nigeria.
- “A Private Experience” — Chika, who is Igbo and Christian, is helped by a woman who is Hausa and Muslim when they are caught in a riot.
- “Ghosts” — retired professor at university to check on his pension that never comes, runs into colleague he thought was dead for past 30 years.
- “On Monday of Last Week” — helicopter parent dad, artist mom, babysitter who gets her hopes up.
- “Jumping Monkey Hill” — writers retreat in S. Africa, organized by lecherous old man. Story within the story (i.e. workshopped story) is based on real life, but ‘not plausible’ to old man, of course.
- “The Thing Around Your Neck” — winning the American visa lottery, give and take, and the American bf who thinks he understands it all.
- “The American Embassy” — the journalist’s wife applying for asylum after her husband flees and her son is accidentally shot/killed by the government agents looking for him.
- “The Shivering” — the grad student at Princeton who’s visited by a neighbor who she assumes is a student, too. They become friends and she discovers he’s not.
- “The Arrangers of Marriage” — the new wife whose husband is trying too hard to assimilate and, oops, has failed to mention he’s already married.
- “Tomorrow is Too Far” — the woman absorbed with guilt over the death of her brother when she was 10.
- “The Headstrong Historian” — family history from grandmother Nwamgba to granddaughter Grace/Afamenfuna, who becomes a historian, reclaiming the stories that had been suppressed by colonial rule.
I especially liked “Jumping Monkey Hill” and “The Headstrong Historian,” but these stories are all so good. They read so effortlessly, which means the crafting of them was quite the opposite.
(*language tangent: Canadians don’t say “America”; we say “the States” or “the US” b/c Canada is also part of America-the-continent. “American” as a demonym for citizens of US is weird, when you think about it. People from all countries in the Americas are Americans. I’ve seen people on Twitter use “USian”—maybe that will catch on?)