The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is my review for The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 


The book
This is a short story collection by Adichie. All the short stories are based around a person from Nigeria, who either lives in Nigeria, or who has emigrated from Nigeria. All the stories are very much about identity, and who these people are in relation to who they have been and where they live. They’re about relationships between men, women and family members.

Thoughts
I love it so much. I love Adichie’s writing and her writing style. She has an ability to make me love people who are insufferable, people who are loveable, people who are annoying and unlikeable. Although I always like reading about unlikeable people if they’re written well.

I really loved “A Private Experience,” it’s set during riots in Lagos and a young, rich medical student is hiding in a little room with a poor Muslim woman. She spends the whole time thinking about her sister who she lost in the riots, and the story has these flashes of what happens after, and her search for her sister after the riots are over. The riots are a fight between Muslims and Christians and at the same time a Christian woman and a Muslim woman are hiding together, being safe together, finding a sort of comfort in each other. It also explores the prejudices of the Christian woman towards poor people and towards Muslims. And it is so beautiful, and painful.

The last story in the collection is about a woman in the 1800s who thinks her husband was murdered by his brothers, and she sends her son to a missionary school so he can learn and get his inheritance. It’s a beautiful, painful look at the history of Nigeria, from when missionaries come to Nigeria, and then how her son changes, and how her whole life changes. It’s also sad and it hurts to see how her traditions are reduced to folklore and mythology and savagery. It might have really appealed to my nerdy anthropology love.

I feel like I loved all the stories, but anyway. There’s one about a young woman living in the US who is worried her ex-boyfriend has died in a plane crash back home, and she meets a young man from Nigeria and they find comfort in each other. And I loved how awful the young woman was. She wasn’t awful, but basically, the guy left her, and she is grieving that, and so she talks about nothing else. And it annoyed me so much, but at the same time, I get that she needs to talk about it, but it was so horribly annoying the way she managed to turn every conversation to her ex-boyfriend. It was like she was obsessed, and she wasn’t entirely aware that she was doing it. I found it really interesting to read about her. She’s clearly lonely living in a country that isn’t hers, and without anyone that she knows, but oh my God she’s so self-centred. This makes it sound like I didn’t like the story, I loved it.

Finally

I don’t think there were any duds. I really liked all the stories. I think some of them resonated more with me than others, and I liked some more, but there weren’t any that I hated. So I loved this collection. I really like Adichie, and I really want to read her whole bibliography.