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review 2017-11-29 23:44
The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are a lot of reasons why these stories were each amazing and beautiful. For starters, they are #ownvoices, which in itself lends depth to them that is hard to come by from people not familiar with others experiences, but the stories are also varied in many other ways.

I remember first hearing about Adichie from her TEDtalk, the Danger of a Single Story, so I knew not to expect the stories to be similar to each other or to any idea that I had about Africa or African people. Each one is a different part of life for African people. I know that several stories were about Nigerians specifically, but not whether all were. I know Adichie is Nigerian (yes, I even looked up her Wikipedia page to double check), but I don't want to make either assumption that it means all her characters must be Nigerian nor that the experience of people from different countries within Africa are interchangeable. Instead, I'll just point out that I don't know. I do know that one story pointed out where secondary characters were from and the protagonist even refers to them by their country more than their name as they are all new to her.

Getting back to the way the stories were varied, some were immigration stories to the US and others took place in Africa, but even one of those could be loosely categorized as an immigration story because it is about a woman attempting to obtain refugee status to go to the US. It would be difficult to judge the stories against each other on a level of enjoyable as not all are happy or sad, but they all make the reader think about their ideas of how they treat people and how they are treated by people.

I was glad that I listened to the audiobook, read by Adjoa Andoh, because of the character names. Not only would I have mispronounced, but I would have missed out on the lyrical beauty of many of them. The many accents required to read through all the stories were masterfully done as one should expect from an actress of Andoh's accomplishments.

Altogether, it's an enlightening set of stories that should definitely be read by anyone interested in stories about the lives of women. This does not mean that it should be relegated to "chick lit", though. None of the stories are delivered in the "humorously and lightedhardly" style of what is often referred to as chick lit. These are serious stories about women's lives, the struggles, the many forms that heartbreak takes, the difficult decisions that must be contended with. While I wouldn't use the book alone to indicate what African or Nigerian culture is completely about (then we'd fall into the narrow view that Adichie herself cautions against), I would say that it paints an interesting picture of what it is like for some women.

So again, an excellent pick for anyone interested in women's stories, particularly those looking to expand their reading to include stories in more than one country, of moving between countries, of the way lives mix between people of different cultures in several ways. The collection on its own, it still expands the idea of what African stories are and takes us a beyond a single story.

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review 2017-02-06 14:40
The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was an amazing collection, each story focusing on a different part of life, each one entirely different from the last, and each one completely amazing.

There are a lot of reasons why these stories were each amazing and beautiful. For starters, they are #ownvoices, which in itself lends depth to them that is hard to come by from people not familiar with others experiences, but the stories are also varied in many other ways.

I remember first hearing about Adichie from her TEDtalk, the Danger of a Single Story, so I knew not to expect the stories to be similar to each other or to any idea that I had about Africa or African people. Each one is a different part of life for African people. I know that several stories were about Nigerians specifically, but not whether all were. I know Adichie is Nigerian (yes, I even looked up her Wikipedia page to double check), but I don't want to make either assumption that it means all her characters must be Nigerian nor that the experience of people from different countries within Africa are interchangeable. Instead, I'll just point out that I don't know. I do know that one story pointed out where secondary characters were from and the protagonist even refers to them by their country more than their name as they are all new to her.

Getting back to the way the stories were varied, some were immigration stories to the US and others took place in Africa, but even one of those could be loosely categorized as an immigration story because it is about a woman attempting to obtain refugee status to go to the US. It would be difficult to judge the stories against each other on a level of enjoyable as not all are happy or sad, but they all make the reader think about their ideas of how they treat people and how they are treated by people.

I was glad that I listened to the audiobook, read by Adjoa Andoh, because of the character names. Not only would I have mispronounced, but I would have missed out on the lyrical beauty of many of them. The many accents required to read through all the stories were masterfully done as one should expect from an actress of Andoh's accomplishments.

Altogether, it's an enlightening set of stories that should definitely be read by anyone interested in stories about the lives of women. This does not mean that it should be relegated to "chick lit", though. None of the stories are delivered in the "humorously and lightedhardly" style of what is often referred to as chick lit. These are serious stories about women's lives, the struggles, the many forms that heartbreak takes, the difficult decisions that must be contended with. While I wouldn't use the book alone to indicate what African or Nigerian culture is completely about (then we'd fall into the narrow view that Adichie herself cautions against), I would say that it paints an interesting picture of what it is like for some women.

So again, an excellent pick for anyone interested in women's stories, particularly those looking to expand their reading to include stories in more than one country, of moving between countries, of the way lives mix between people of different cultures in several ways. The collection on its own, it still expands the idea of what African stories are and takes us a beyond a single story.

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review 2015-08-18 13:00
The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a superb collection of twelve thoughtful, well-written stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. They are slice-of-life with an introspective feel, with characters who are mostly observing circumstances unfold around them with a seeming passivity that belies the strength it takes to endure and not be folded up into these circumstances.

 

The stories are populated by a wide spectrum of characters (varied by gender, economic level, occupation, the works), and we follow them as they deal with the consequences of war, relationship ordeals, the loneliness of assimilating to a different culture; just all manner of life upheavals. They are all unique, told from a variety of POVs, including two of them in the second person perspective, which was quite interesting and delightful, because I rarely come across such. 

 

My favorite story in the collection is The Arrangers of Marriage. I first read this story in the Granta Book of the African Short Story and I was very sure then that there would be more Adichie in my life. Everything about it just blew me away. Rereading it now after more than two years, it has lost none of its initial impact. For me, it is a very evocative and relatable story, not in the terms of Chinaza’s relationship with her new (practically a stranger) husband, but with her experience of coming to the United States, to Brooklyn, New York. A lot of her experiences, as her husband clues her in to her new way of life, mirrored my own when I first visited the US, also Brooklyn, New York. All the talk of Flatbush, and Key Foods, and how to do the grocery shopping, and how to take the bus – these were all things my sister-in-law initiated me into. Basically how to assimilate, even while losing parts of yourself in the process. While my time there was short, it was still a little arduous. I felt empathy for Chinaza as she underwent her own initiation, and with an unsympathetic spouse to boot.

"Our neighborhood was called Flatbush, my new husband told me, as we walked, hot and sweaty, down a noisy street that smelled of fish left out too long before refrigeration. He wanted to show me how to do the grocery shopping and how to use the bus.

 

Inside the air-conditioned bus, he showed me where to pour in the coins, how to press the tape on the wall to signal my stop.

 

“This is not like Nigeria, where you shout out to the conductor [*],” he said, sneering, as though he was the one who had invented the superior American system."

[*This is what we do here as well, which is why I absolutely hate using the bus system in any other country but my own. I’m always terrified I’ll forget to press the strip at the right place, find myself blocks away from my intended stop and I, being navigationally challenged, will be lost, lost, lost. Yikes!]

 

Not just this story but most of the others have other tidbits (especially cultural) that are so similar to my own Afro-Caribbean context, it was amazing. In The American Embassy, Ugonna is standing in line, waiting to get into the US Embassy, where she’ll apply for a visa.  There is a lot of talk all around as applicants engage with each other, and attempt to include her, but her mind is distracted by the terrible events of the past couple of days. At one point, the woman in front of her gets annoyed and says to her, “I have been talking to you and you just look at me like a moo-moo!” When I read this line, my mouth must’ve hung open for a full 30 seconds. I never thought I would ever come across a novel (except maybe a St Lucian one) where someone would be referred to as a ‘moo-moo’. I honestly thought that was a distinctly Lucian thing. Ah, the things you learn …

 

If I had one complaint, it would be that some of the stories end a little too abruptly, just as I was getting invested in the characters. But I would say this is a personal thing; I like closure ;-)

 

Once again, this is an excellent collection, and recommended to all readers. You won’t regret it.

“Udenna never said ‘I love you’ to me because he thought it was a cliché. Once I told him I was sorry he felt bad about something and he started shouting and said I should not use an expression like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ because it was unoriginal. He used to make me feel that nothing I said was witty enough or sarcastic enough or smart enough. He was always struggling to be different, even when it didn’t matter. It was as if he was performing his life instead of living his life.”” – from The Shivering

Source: lucianyaz.booklikes.com/post/1230025/the-thing-around-your-neck
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text 2013-09-30 06:09
#FridayReads / #WeeklyWrapup September 29th
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Delayed much?

 

Hi Readers!

 

So I am back with a new edition of #FridayReads. I really don't have that many huge updates but here it goes. 

 

I finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I LOVED IT! I loved it! I think I may be even crushing on the writer herself. 

 

Yep, so that is a spoiler for how the review of that book is going to go ... if it ever goes up. (I am kinda bad at putting up reviews, eh?). 

 

I also went on a book haul during the weekend, where I bought We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and The Thing Around Your Neck by Adichie. I am pretty excited for the former considering that I lived in Zimbabwe during my entire adolescence-- though, I read the chapter and I could not situate myself at all. It does have some similarities with Americanah by bringing in the diaspora aspect of Africanhood (if such a thing exists). 

 

I feel that I will start another themed read which would be  Contemporary African Literature; sadly, I hesitate because I didn't even post a single review for my last themed read. Then again, no one has commented negatively about it. So it is okay?!?

 

Finally, I am toying with the idea of testing out a new format of reading. I used to , and to a great extent, still am a strong advocate of the "BUT IF IT IS NOT A BOUND BOOK YOU LOSE ALL THE EXPERIENCE." Yes, I put all caps, because that is how strongly I felt. You see, I work at a relatively new job, where I am required to spend an inordinate amount of time doing the same task again, and again, and again. Which is why we are allowed to listen to music. I have been thinking of downloading an audiobook or two and reading while listening. It is much better than logging around Stephen King's The Shining (when am I ever going to finish that?!?) or feeling awkward because there is no time to sneak in a few pages from Americanah. 

 


So that is it from me. I hope you have a great week. 

 

xox, S. 

 

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review 2012-10-16 00:00
The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie One of the best short story books I have ever read. A treasure.
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