BOOK REVIEW : THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
This book documents the struggles Nigerian Immigrants face in trying to adapt to the American lifestyle. Some choose to strip themselves off their identity, by taking up an English name they never bore, decide to halt speaking their native dialect in public. This is due to the misconceived notion that the only way to excel in America is to totally strip yourself off your African heritage.
It also documents the emotional and mental strength it takes to adapt to a new lifestyle, as a result of moving into a new environment. In cell one, one of the characters complained about the lonely life in America.
"It is what America does to you, she thinks. It forces egalitarianism on you. You have no one to talk to, really, except for your toddlers, so you turn to your housegirl. And before you know it she is your friend. Your equal"
These immigrants never thought there was another side to America but glitz and glam, all they wanted to do was get out and come to America. They discover America isn't as rosy as it has been portrayed by family and friends. You have to work for every dollar.
From my perspective, I believe the author's purpose was to showcase, the misconceptions and high expectations people have about the American lifestyle. It's not just about moving. Moving takes way more from you ( emotionally, mentally and psychologically) than you ever expected. The struggle to adapt, fit in without giving up your culture and sense of self. The author also makes reference to the Biafran War, Homosexuality, arranged marriage, taboos, and colonization.
COMPARISON OF THE WORK TO OTHERS BY THE SAME AUTHOR OR WITHIN THE SAME GENRE
The thing around your neck was different compared to other books of the author I have read. This is a book which comprises of 12 chapters written in twelve different voices. At first, I was confused after reading CELL ONE and IMITATION, I felt lost because I expected a continuation of stories, chapter after chapter. I expected them to come together at some point. I had a pre-conceived idea on how the stories should intertwine as I have previously read Chimamanada's books but to my surprise, there was a twist to this one.
I found the characters to be three-dimensional. Character development does occur, you can see how they progress in each chapter. Take for example in Cell one, we were carried along as to how Nnamabia's character trait developed, from his disrespectful and lying self to his criminal self. Character development does take place in all 12 chapters. These characters are drawn from Historical times. Most of these events mentioned in this book actually occurred and some still occur till date. Of course, names we edited, but if you are familiar with Nigerian history and way of life, you will be able to relate to a lot of experiences of the characters.
The major themes are colonialism, taboos, and immigration. The themes are familiar and traditional. C'mon these are experiences we all can relate to. The theme I would say is entertaining. I had quite a few laughs, actually, this statement from CELL ONE made me laugh so hard.
"My mother bribed the two policemen at the desk with money and with jollof rice and meat, all tied up in a black waterproof bags, and they allowed Nnamabia to come out of his cell and sit on a bench under an umbrella tree". The jollof rice part got me laughing so hard LOL. really, do you actually bribe someone with jollof rice?
There was a lot of suspense and climax.
I admire Chimamanda's writing style because of her use of humor, simplicity, and clarity. I found her style of writing to have aesthetic qualities such as a harmony and rhythm. I love her use of places that actually exist. For example, Odim Hill in Nnsukka. Also, I love how she expresses herself "His body falling against Aluminium bowls of soup"
"Then he told you how the neighbors said, a few months after he moved into his house, that squirrels had started to disappear. They had heard that Africans ate all kinds of wild animals" LOOOL
MY FAVOURITE CHAPTERS WERE:
THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK
Documents the struggles of a young girl (Akunna) who immigrated to America, when she won the American Visa Lottery played by her "uncle". After being molested/ sexually abused by her uncle she had to make the choice of either giving in to her uncle's advances or moving out to fend for herself. She decides to get a job as a waitress where she will get paid under the table, two dollars less than normal wage as Mr. Juan doesn't like paying taxes.
Life in America wasn't rosy but she couldn't fathom the thought of moving back to Nigeria.
She found the culture in America strange, compared to Nigeria. She begins dating a Caucasian man and she's constantly mad at the fact that he doesn't take advantage of the opportunity available to him. He sees it as ordinary, nothing special.
She becomes aware of racial differences based on the looks given to her by people in public places.
THE AMERICAN EMBASSY
Narrates the struggles of getting an American Visa, also the advice given to those before they go for their interview at the embassy. Advice on body language, how one should comport themselves, also the struggle involved in getting visiting, immigrant and Asylum visas
Ukamaka and Chinedu bond when the bad news from Nigeria hits them. A plane crashed, Ukamaka is scared her ex-boyfriend was on the flight. Thankfully, he missed his flight. Chinedu, so concerned about the plane crash, join Ukamaka in prayers as he believes the plane crash is a sign of God punishing the citizens of Nigeria. This causes a strong bond between Chinedu and Ukamaka where he admits his sexuality to Ukamaka and lets her in on his worries of being deported to Nigeria
THE ARRANGERS OF MARRIAGE
A bride(Chinanza) moves from Nigeria to America and is disappointed at the site and structure of her house as it falls short of expectations of what she saw in the movies. America is painted as this picture of being heaven.
Her husband stripped himself off his identity because he wanted to fit in. Although she wasn't comfortable with that, he chose to strip her off her identity by changing their last names to English names. Husband believe you have to strip yourself off your identity in other to succeed in America, like stop speaking your language
Expectations were cut short when she found out her husband was once married, didn't earn as much as ass her match makes me it seem.
TOMORROW IS TOO FAR
A young girl narrates the death of her cousin who was her grandmama's favorite grandchild. She believes her grandmother caused his death by playing a prank on him being bitten by a snake.
THE HEADSTRONG HISTORIAN
Nwagba's husband died from being poisoned by his cousin's. Her attempts to defeat these cousin's required sending her only son to live with missionaries.
wanted her son to learn English so he could defeat his father's brothers. son had a daughter grace who went back to her roots.
A rural and village setting was represented in this book. All I kept on thinking about was a land filled with so much nature, connection with mother earth. For the most part, the setting does influence the character's attitude towards life. The characters are pretty much a product or function of their environment. The setting helped in painting a clearer picture of the characters.
I found this book to give a full-length picture of the characters. They were showcased with intricate detail. I wouldn't say the events in this book were organized chronologically or retrospectively, there were 12 different chapters addressing different issues with a common theme.
History With what particular period does the book deal?
Social and political history was emphasized. The Biafran War, the death of the first lady of Nigeria and Plane crash that occurred in 2005. Plane crash I believe was Belview air but wasn't mentioned!!!
The Ixora flowers!!! reminded me of my childhood. I used to pluck and suck it's thin-needle stalk when I played outside.
The Benin mask- Reminded me of my heritage my heritage pretty much everything that comes with Benin city!!!
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK?
Those who love climax and suspense.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?
Yes, I will. Whenever I read Chimamanda's books, she always takes me on a journey. I feel like I am out of this world.
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE THIS BOOK?
I purchased mine via Amazon.
PRICE: $21 (CAN)