"The Thing Around Your Neck" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives us twelve insightful short stories that take readers deep inside Nigerian culture as well as to the intersection where Nigerian and American cultures collide.

This collection is a beautiful portrayal of African culture.  It's about the people and their lives, their emotions, wisdom and the human struggles that occur for everyone.   Adichie's subjects are men and women, adults and children, both in Africa and the United States.  This book takes you beyond the Africa you see on television or in the media and shows you the people at the heart of it.

In Tomorrow is Too Far, a young girl reminisces about the summer her brother Nonso died.  Nonso was the favourite of their grandmother, and the young girl as well as her cousin Dozie felt the pain of jealousy.   But after 13 years, the true story behind her brothers death continues to haunt her.

In The Thing Around Your Neck, a young woman arrives in America after gaining a sought after visa.  But after her uncle molests her, she takes off on her own and ends up working as a waitress.  She falls in love with a patron, a white man whose interest in world culture is a surprise to her.  

In The Shivering, a young woman in America is concerned about the fate of her ex-boyfriend after learning he may have been in a terrible plane crash in Nigeria.  When there is a knock at her door, she finds comfort in the prayers of a fellow Nigerian who lives in her building but she has never met before.

The above three are my favourite stories from the book.  I enjoyed how all twelve of the stories presented different viewpoints but had common threads amongst them.  Adichie presents a very accessible Nigerian culture, one readers of all backgrounds can understand and enjoy.  

I did find that many of the stories ended a bit early for me or in what seemed to me like strange places.  Some left me hanging in a good way, leaving me wondering but satisfied.  Others left me wanting just a little bit more to tie up the story better.  But there is no denying that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a storyteller for this generation, a seasoned and talented author who will be one of our most prominent writers for years to come.


  1. I always pause when I come across this book while searching for African literature. The title is compelling to me. However I've not be inclined to purchase until I just read your review.


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