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( Read Book ) Ì The Thing Around Your Neck ê 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 themChimamanda 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 Balti 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 StatesIn 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 themSearing 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 If you ask me who my current favourite contemporary author is I will undoubtedly answer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Her writing moves me like no one else s She writes perfectly imperfect characters who I may not always like or even respect at times, but they always feel honest She has this amazing way of capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary with her words and making either utterly captivating to read Without a doubt I would recommend that you go and pick up ANY of her novels and fa If you ask me who my current favourite contemporary author is I will undoubtedly answer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Her writing moves me like no one else s She writes perfectly imperfect characters who I may not always like or even respect at times, but they always feel honest She has this amazing way of capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary with her words and making either utterly captivating to read Without a doubt I would recommend that you go and pick up ANY of her novels and familiarise yourself with her literary expertise This particular book is a collection of some of her short stories which I will review individually Cell OneThis was the season of thefts on our serene campus Boys who had grown up watching Sesame Street, reading Enid Blyton, eating cornflakes for breakfast, and attending the university staff primary school in polished brown sandals were now cutting through the mosquito netting of their neighbors windows, sliding out glass louvres, and climbing in to steal TVs and VCRs We knew the thieves Still, when the professors saw one another at the staff club or at church or at a faculty meeting, they were careful to moan about the riffraff from town coming onto their sacred campus to steal This short story tells the tale of Nnamabia through his younger sister s eyes Nnamabia is at that age no longer a boy but not yet a man He is influenced by others, gets involved in antisocial behaviour and one night in a case ofwrong place at the wrong timehe gets arrested What follows is a story of corruption, of ill treatment and of discovering if you are someone who is willing to stand up and be counted This is not immediately as gripping as some of the other short stories I have read by Adichie but by the end it is just as moving three stars Imitation It is one of the things she has come to love about America, the abundance of unreasonable hope What is love within marriage Is it a promise of fidelity of name but not of the body Is it providing a house for your children but not a home Is it keeping up with some idea of what is right and expected of you or is it dancing together with four left feet At its core this story examines love The expectations, the hopes, the dreams, the loyalties, the betrayals As ever Adichie s prose leaves a wake of victims in her trail No one is perfect Hearts are torn open and innermost thoughts are laid bare for all to see And it is these imperfections, this unrelenting frailty of humanity, that make this feel honest four stars A Private Experienceriots do not happen in a vacuum, that religion and ethnicity are often politicised because the ruler is safe if the hungry ruled are killing one another This tells the story of two Nigerian women, one Igbo and Christian and the other Hausa and Muslim, that take refuge together in a shop during a riot The images painted in this story are harsh and real Some descriptions caught me unawares and made me feel ill but isn t that how such things should make us feel The murderous chaos going on outside the shop is utterly terrifying and yet inside the walls of this shop there is a softness and a gentleness a sharing of kindness between these two women who should be on opposite sides This is a beautifully crafted short piece of writing that gives great pause for thought four and a half stars Ghostshe was mourning a time immersed in possibilities a man who carries with him the weight of what could have beenAre the ghosts of our pasts always with us Even though sometimes we choose not to look back are we still forever conscious of how it is we came to be What formed our minds, our view points What filled our hearts This short describes the meeting with two old men, acquaintances who had not met for years as during the Nigerian Civil War Biafran Conflict they had been separated The story had the most beautiful wistful air to it It was quiet, gentle but laden with emotion and my heart felt heavy when I finished it four stars On Monday of Last Week A story of loneliness Of waiting, of feeling inadequate and then having someone flip that switch inside you and feeling wanted again This short follows a young Nigerian woman who waited for her husband to send for her to come join him in America and how the passage of time can cause you to not recognise your life any three stars Jumping Monkey HillBut why do we say nothing why do we always say nothing This story confused me I couldn t get into it initially The characters didn t capture my heart or my imagination even though as the story developed some very interesting themes of how women are treated were explored For example, what is considered to be expected from them What they should expect themselves from life, what they should and should not say I quite liked the ending It felt unresolved but in that way that makes you thinkabout life Not my favourite ever short story but still interesting three stars The Thing Around Your NeckAfter you told him this, he pursed his lips and held your hand and said he understood how you felt You shook your hand free, suddenly annoyed, because he thought the world was, or ought to be full of people like him You told him there was nothing to understand, it was just the way it was Utterly brilliant short story describing the feelings of what it means to be a young immigrant woman in a foreign land It has echoes of Adichie s full length novel Americanah and packs such an emotion laden punch in a short few pages It is brutal in its honesty and unflinching in the style of prose used A must read five stars The American Embassy A short story that suffered because of the impact that the previous story had on me It took a little longer to get into but once I did it was very thought provoking It tells the story of a woman who attends the American Embassy looking to be granted asylum and how humiliating an experience that that is She has to plead with someone else to believe her a stranger who does not understand her or her way of life The guilt that eats her up when she feels like she has to use family bereavements to show that her need is just It is a beautiful story that shows the human side of politics the person behind the statistic three and a half stars The ShiveringHow can you love somebody and yet want to manage the amount of happiness that person is allowed How can a person claim to love you and yet want you to do things that suits only them This is a beautiful short story about love and heartbreak, about faith and religion Adichie s voice as ever is honest and her characters make you feel so much in just a few pages The character s views on faith and religion are also wonderfully refreshing and really give great pause for thought four stars The Arrangers of Marriage A short that explores the emotional and social implications of what happens when a young Nigerian girl is sent to America to marry what her family see as a good catch, a doctor three stars Tomorrow is Too FarEven at 10 you knew that some people can take up too much space by simply being, that by existing, some people can stifle others A short story woven in such a way that it feels very ethereal, other worldly even It explores the family dynamics of favouritism three stars The Headstrong HistorianThis story would cause her to make a clear link between education and dignity, between the hard, obvious things that are printed in books and the soft, subtle things that lodge themselves in the soul This short looks at three generations of Nigerians It follows the lives of Nwamgba, her son and granddaughter and shows the impact of westernisation on this one family through religious and cultural changes It explores the undying love a mother has for her child how she wants nothing but the best for him even if that would mean that he no longer recognises himself as being like her How the spirits of the past affect our present, our future How what was once important becomes the ways of the elders How education can be biased and skewed towards a certain viewpoint And how things come full circle It s a very thought provoking short story that I immediately had to read again upon finishing just so I could fully take it all in as it packs quite the punch in its short few paragraphs four and a half stars Overall I very much enjoyed this collection of short stories and have rated it four stars August 2016.Finally managed to finish this collection of shorts this morning Favourite author taking two ish months to read Yeah that is one heck of a book slump Full review to comeeventually Only because I am reading alphabetically through my library s fiction shelves, did I this book up My self imposed rules are that I don t read any back covers or inside flaps, I just read the first 50 pages and then decide if the book is worth finishing Had I read the back flap, my silly prejudices would have forced me to put it down and pick up, instead, a silly rom com I am a white, WASP, 44 year old, egocentric American with an average education and little travel experience, it would never Only because I am reading alphabetically through my library s fiction shelves, did I this book up My self imposed rules are that I don t read any back covers or inside flaps, I just read the first 50 pages and then decide if the book is worth finishing Had I read the back flap, my silly prejudices would have forced me to put it down and pick up, instead, a silly rom com I am a white, WASP, 44 year old, egocentric American with an average education and little travel experience, it would never occur to me to read a book of short stories by an African writer Shame on me How delightful that my library project has given me this gift The Thing Around Your Neck These short stories were gripping, eye opening, tragic, hopeful and universal I loved them all I appreciated the author s economic style, her distinct voice and her honesty I highly recommend this book for other egocentric overfed Americans like me, especially those who want to write well You could learn a lot, about the world, about Africa and about good writing from the author, Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the leading voices of African literature today Her books Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus have won multiple awards and made her a respected writer of African issues The Thing Around Your Neck is her first story collection, which weaves together tales of Nigerians in Africa and in the United States sharing the same hardships and love for their homeland The collection commences with the story of Nnamabia who is falsely accused of running with his unive Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the leading voices of African literature today Her books Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus have won multiple awards and made her a respected writer of African issues The Thing Around Your Neck is her first story collection, which weaves together tales of Nigerians in Africa and in the United States sharing the same hardships and love for their homeland The collection commences with the story of Nnamabia who is falsely accused of running with his university s gangs and thrown in jail The father who is a university professor uses his position in the town to bribe policemen to get his son freed The other stories that occur in Nigeria also involve either police violence, warfare during the revolution, or infighting between Christian and Muslim sects Despite the almost constant warfare, the Nigeria that Adichie writes of is one of open air markets, joyful cultural celebrations, and a harmattan dry season during the winter that makes Nigerians abroad long to return This is especially evident in story of the retired professor who returned from the United States and the woman at the embassy who chose to return to her family s ancestral village than seek a visa to asylum The title story sums up Adichie s feelings for Nigerians living in the United States American life is easy rich people turning down food and still leaving a tip, a sterile lifestyle devoid of culture, people obsessing with minute details that aren t even heard of in Africa The characters in these stories all long to go back whether for an extended holiday or to live Most were children of the wealthy class and came either for school or because they thought they could provide an even better life for their children Yet, these children end up speaking English, wanting pizza rather than native food, and desiring to change their names Rather than a better opportunity, the children become typical American immigrants, and the African parents feel choked, pining to return to the Nigeria that they love Adichie s rich prose had me enthralled from the first pages This is the first time that I have read her work, and I can see how her full length novels have won awards Even in stories as short as ten pages, she has used vivid language to create multi layered characters I especially noticed this in the protagonists in Jumping Monkey Hill and The Shivering These characters were so real and developed that I could not help feel their current life situation even after briefly reading about them Adichie ends her collection with The Headstrong Historian, a story of three generations of Africans coping with finding a balance between Christian proselytization and preserving their culture The women in this story love their Nigerian culture and desire that it be passed down to successive generations This is the Nigeria that Adichie has created for me in this collection a country rich with culture that even if she has undergone her share of hardships, is a country looking toward the future, and one that all Nigerians living abroad long to return to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has created deep characters with her rich prose here, and I look forward to reading her full length novels The Thing Around Your Neck easily rates 4.5 shining stars Several years ago, Jhumpa Lahiri entranced me with her stories of the sorrows, hopes and realities of being an immigrant in the United States Through her characters, she showed how it felt to be pushed away from your own country by oppression and poverty into another that so often treated you like a shadow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie s 2009 collection That Thing Around Your Neck offers stories with these same themes, written with the same grace and power Unlike Lahiri, however whom I discovered Several years ago, Jhumpa Lahiri entranced me with her stories of the sorrows, hopes and realities of being an immigrant in the United States Through her characters, she showed how it felt to be pushed away from your own country by oppression and poverty into another that so often treated you like a shadow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie s 2009 collection That Thing Around Your Neck offers stories with these same themes, written with the same grace and power Unlike Lahiri, however whom I discovered through Interpreter of Maladies I was already familiar with Adichie s writing, so each story serves as an invitation to delvedeeply into Nigeria s near history and the experiences of Nigerians in contemporary America The specter of political chaos and brutal military action hangs heavily over several stories, including the opener, Cell One, in which a young woman s brother is held in jail under the threat of permanent incarceration A Private Experience, that looks in on two women one Christian Igbo, the other Muslim Hausa hiding together in a shop while riots break out in the city streets around them The American Embassy, where the reader stands in line with a woman who has just suffered an unspeakable loss and is seeking asylum in the States and hauntingly, in Ghosts when a man meets a former colleague who he thought had been killed in the Biafran War many years ago But all politics is personal, and Adichie s stories are most intimate when her characters appear stranded in a strange place the United States She presents women in various stages of acculturation, but nearly all are lonely and betrayed, betrayed by their own expectations, by men who promised them a future, as in Imitation, Arrangers of Marriage On Monday of Last Week, one of my favorites, calls to mind a later scenario in Adichie s 2012 novel Americanah, in which an educated Nigerian woman serves as an au pair for a wealthy family, and also presents Americanah s theme of what it means to be a black African in race sensitive America.Adichie also works through the delicate balance of literary achievement and authenticity, so brilliantly and sharply rendered in Jumping Monkey Hill, where a pan African collective of writers gathers at a retreat in east Africa, only to be pandered to and condescended by their benefactor, a lecherous snob.The collection s final story, The Headstrong Historian, almost feels like it belongs to some other collection, for some other reader It is set in a much younger state of Nigeria, in the early half of the 20th century, when Nigeria was still a colony It is a tapestry of history and culture and begs to be unraveled and recreated into a much longer narrative Adichie s themes are so relevant and contemporary see all politics is personal , one could almost assign her the bothersome label of agenda writer And she s all too aware of that pitfall grabbing onto the label and thrusting it into her own story Jumping Monkey Hill What separates her, makes her voice irresistible, is her gorgeous storytelling First and foremost with Adichie, it is the story It is those characters who breathe, hearts beating, skin warm It is the setting, the harmattan winds that suck moisture from the very air, or the chill of autumn in America It is what people feel, what makes them laugh and cry, what stirs their passions Chimamanda Adichie is a sublime storyteller Only later do you realize how much you ve learned under the guidance of her strong and generous voice