Chimamanda 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” (Baltimore 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 States.
In “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 them.
Searing 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.
The words "Things Fall Apart" are so frequently associated with Nigerian author Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel that it is easy forget they are not original to it but taken from Yeats's 1920 poem "The Second Coming." "The center cannot hold," the Irish poet wrote, contemplating the disintegration of modern life: "Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." If Achebe's novel narrated the destruction of traditional Igbo culture by Christian missionaries and British colonialists in the late 19th century, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie writes from a place where only a few can remember what the center was, if such a thing is construed to be an ancestral culture uncorrupted by outside influences. The 32-year-old Nigerian writer acknowledges Achebe as one of her greatest influences -- her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, opened with the line "Things started to fall apart at home," and this book of short stories is entitled The Thing Around Your Neck. Adichie's characters are, for the most part, irreversibly those of the late 20th century. Many of them are global citizens who make their homes between Africa and America but aren't sure if they truly belong to either.