The Thing Around Your Neck

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). 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.

In The Thing Around Your Neck (published in 2009); Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but also 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.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, (born September 15, 1977, Enugu, Nigeria), Nigerian author whose work drew extensively on the Biafran war in Nigeria during the late 1960s.

Early in life Adichie, the fifth of six children, moved with her parents to Nsukka, Nigeria. A voracious reader from a young age, she found Things Fall Apart by novelist and fellow Igbo Chinua Achebe transformative. After studying medicine for a time in Nsukka, in 1997 she left for the United States, where she studied communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University (B.A., 2001). Splitting her time between Nigeria and the United States, she received a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and studied African history at Yale University.In 1998 Adichie’s play For Love of Biafra was published in Nigeria. She later dismissed it as “an awfully melodramatic play,” but it was among the earliest works in which she explored the war in the late 1960s between Nigeria and its secessionist Biafra republic. She later wrote several short stories about that conflict, which would become the subject of her highly successful novel Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). As a student at Eastern Connecticut State University, she began writing her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003). Set in Nigeria, it is the coming-of-age story of Kambili, a 15-year-old whose family is wealthy and well respected but who is terrorized by her fanatically religious father. Purple Hibiscus garnered the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005 for Best First Book (Africa) and that year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (overall). It was also short-listed for the 2004 Orange Prize (later called the Orange Broadband Prize and now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction).

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