Friday, 3 February 2017

Review | The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My Rating:

From the prizewinning author of Half of a Yellow Sun twelve dazzling stories—her most intimate work to date—in which she turns her penetrating eye on the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria 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, this collection is a resounding confirmation of Adichie’s prodigious literary powers.

I've been meaning to read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's fiction for a couple of years now, so I decided to start 2017 as I mean to go on and pick up her well-loved short story collection, The Thing Around Your Neck. With female narrators galore - and the odd man, too - Adichie explores themes of womanhood, motherhood, and the relationship between Nigeria and America in an incredibly accomplished collection.

Reading fiction set outside of Europe and North America is something I still need to improve on and I'm looking forward to doing more of just that this year throughout this year and beyond because it was so refreshing to read about Nigeria, and even more so to read about Nigeria from the point of view of a Nigerian. The only thing I would have liked more of was more stories set outside Lagos; a lot of stories mentioned Lagos as their setting and though I've never been to Lagos - I've only managed to stray outside of Europe once, so I need to get some further travels under my belt - the further I got through the collection, the more I wanted to see some different places. Having said that, what I did see of Lagos through the lens of Adichie's fiction was fascinating and I'm certainly not going to profess to be a Lagos expert simply because I read this collection.

My favourite stories were 'The Headstrong Historian', 'The Thing Around Your Neck', 'A Private Experience', 'On Monday of Last Week' and 'Tomorrow is Too Far'. Unsurprisingly, these were all stories with women at their centre, and each story explored identity, sexuality, religion, race, colonialism and so many other themes I love reading about, all told through Adichie's simplistic yet beautiful prose. Considering there are twelve stories in this collection, the fact that I have five favourites is testament to the quality of the stories within these pages - there wasn't a single story I didn't enjoy or take something from, so it's safe to say that The Thing Around Your Neck has got me very excited for Adichie's novels.

Though I haven't read as many story collections as I'd've liked to by this point in my life, this is certainly one of the most accomplished collections I've ever read and I highly recommend it!


  1. I recently read Americanah and LOVED it. I'm not big on short stories usually, but you might have convinced me to actually pick this collection up!

    1. I'm planning to dive into Adichie's novels this year and I can't wait to read Americanah - I've yet to hear a bad thing about it. If you enjoy her novels I think you'd really like this collection! =)