I’ve found in the past that I don’t particularly like short story collections. It feels like reaching into a mystery box and hoping for something awesome, only to find some plastic thingamabob that only ends up in the bin. Occasionally you find a gem – but was it really worth it combing through the rest and wasting your time?
And now I feel like a negative Nancy.
But I’ve found it! A short story collection that flowed wonderfully, never failed to entertain, and invoked tears and empathy. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, you’ve done it. And now I understand all the fuss everyone was making about this author.
The Thing Around Your Neck is a short story collection about Nigerian characters and their experiences in and out of Nigeria. There is a power to these stories, grace. And considering my very limited knowledge of the country – it was educating as well.
The writing is simple, to the point and so easy to read. And for me, it was nice little spot of paradise after struggling through Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.
I also enjoyed the range of issues that the collection dealt with: arranged marriage, infidelity, immigration, interracial relationships, sibling rivalry and so on and so forth. These issues were dealt with care and each story was complex and immersive. I felt for the mother who had lost her child, the woman feeling alone and adrift in America, the old professor missing his wife.
Although all stories were wonderful, my particular favorites include The Thing Around Your Neck, The Arrangers of Marriage and The American Embassy.
Overall this was a lovely introduction to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I look forward to reading more of her works.
I give it 4.5/5*