Go and read this book. Immediately

I must confess that I have long had an aversion to short stories. I quickly become immersed in the world of my characters. I quickly form attachments to these almost-real people, and to their welfare. I loathe ambiguity, and hate being left hanging. Short stories, therefore, have always been avoided.

The Thing Around Your Neck changed all that. This is the most beautiful, heartbreaking collection of stories I have read in a long time – if not ever. Exploring themes of family, guilt, loneliness, fear, obligation, culture, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie contrasts life in Nigeria with life in the West through a rich cast of (mostly) female narrators, strong, fully fleshed out figures who live life for the most part with what they’re given, because in Africa, to dictate your own life is almost unheard of.

If like me your world history knowledge, particularly of Africa, is pitiful, you’ll gain so much from her sketches of life in the dusty harmattan, her descriptions of simple food and rich spices, the unfamiliar, many-syllabled names a western tongue trips over.

I came away feeling the richer for having read it and being a part of those characters’ lives for that brief period. That’s all I could ask for, really.

And if you want to add me on Goodreads, I am, as always, eemusings.

6 thoughts on “Go and read this book. Immediately

  • Reply andhari November 14, 2010 at 18:25

    I don’t know a lot of Africa either but everything sounds exotic 🙂

  • Reply Sense November 14, 2010 at 20:44

    Oooh, I will have to pick that up. Thanks to a past (?) love (?), I have a soft spot for a well-written short story (so many of them ARE NOT). It takes an excellent writer to pack everything into a few pages vs. a few hundred or so. I should know–I’ve tried to write many.

    Like you, I find them completely ambiguous and definitely cryptic to the point that I have to basically look up their meanings online, but several very deep and meaningful conversations have spawned from my favorite short stories. they are the following:

    spencer holst–brilliant silence
    hemingway–a clean well lit place, hills like white elephants
    shirley jackson–the lottery
    alice elliot dark–in the gloaming
    i know I like willa cather, but I can’t remember which story is my favorite…

    there is another one that I love, that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of or the author. the allegory is along the lines of ‘the lottery’: it starts out describing a perfect town, with perfect peace, and everyone has enough. but in the end we find out the cost of that peace: one child must suffer a horrible life for this to be possible, and is confined to a dark room with no creature comforts. argh. can’t think of its name!

    and who can forget the secret life of walter mitty, gift of the magi, lamb to the slaughter, and kafka’s metamorphosis? there are so many more…

    thanks for reminding me that I love these, I’ll have to get back into reading and searching them out!

  • Reply Sense November 14, 2010 at 20:48

    Oh! and the monkey’s paw!

  • Reply aloysa November 15, 2010 at 14:36

    I am not a big fan of reading short stories but I am going to check this one out!

  • Reply slamdunk November 15, 2010 at 16:40

    Looks interesting–thanks for the recommendation.

  • Reply Emily Jane November 16, 2010 at 10:19

    This looks really interesting – will be adding to my goodreads! I’m fuchsiag 🙂

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