Book Review: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Review: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

A collection of twelve beautiful short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie draws a connection between Nigeria and other countries, especially America; highlights the differences in these cultures and comments on the struggles that surface when one leaves his home for a new place. The theme of alienation is perhaps the leit motif of these stories.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, needless to say, is a master of words and crafts them in the most seductive of ways. She captures, so seamlessly, the complexities of life as though they were really  just simple, and yet without ever oversimplifying.

And it is no different in The Thing Around Your Neck. Stories like Imitation, On Monday of Last Week, The Thing Around Your Neck, The Shivering and The Arrangers of Marriage deal extensively with the struggles and experiences - fraught with culture shocks and disappointment - of Nigerian immigrants in America.

Even the stories set in Nigeria, like The American Embassy and Tomorrow Is Too Far, sees its characters having a strong connection with America - needing it as an escape from a rather tumultuous country.

Interestingly,  the narrative view changes from first-person (as in Cell One), to second-person (as in the titular story) to third-person (as in Imitation) but the narrator voice mostly remains female (as is common in the author's novels).

The Thing Around Your Neck is sometimes funny, often deep and thoughtful, always human, always poetic. It explores such themes as homesickness, misconceptions, isolation, longing for a better life,  etc. The book is beautifully written with great style and power, enough to invite the reader deeper into into its tales.

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