Remember that time you were listening to Beyonce’s “Flawless” and that crazy good monologue cut into the song? Remember how amazing it felt that someone was killing you so softly and remember how you wondered who that beautiful voice came from? Her name is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and she’s much bigger than an album sound bite.
Chimamanda burst onto the scene with her critically acclaimed debut novel, “Purple Hibiscus” following that soon after with her poignantly beautiful “Half of a Yellow Sun” novel which has become a classic and now a feature film starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor (it also won the Orange Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). In “The Thing Around Your Neck“, Chimamanda gives us some of her most intimate work in a collection of twelve beautifully written short stories that center around different perspectives — like a young Nigerian wife relocated to America — that focus on not only life in Nigeria but America as well. The story lines are exceptionally told and focus on how the bonds of parents and children and lovers are often experienced. She writes with so much depth and feeling and sincerity. All twelve stories are written with authenticity and at times make you sad that they have come to an end.
She weaves stories that juxtapose traditional Igbo values against western ones. She also highlights cultural traditions and leaves their meaning and impact open for deeper thought and conversation. Her stories are powerful and compelling. One of her best tales is “Imitation”, which is the story of a young wife who finds out that her plush life in America is all but a mirage as her husband has moved his mistress into their home back in Nigeria.
“The Thing Around Your Neck” as a title is brilliant. The “thing” is self induced and can be anything you hold on to with passion despite the end result – your pride, your joy, hopes, fears, sorrow, happiness, insecurities and just life experience itself, and Chimamanda does an amazing job of letting us experience the “thing” in many different ways that are relatable if even in the smallest way.
Photography by Angel