The Thing Around Your Neck

The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The Thing Around Your Neck is a short story collection by one of my favourite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Having previously read and loved Purple Hibiscus (my review) and especially Half of a Yellow Sun (my review - go and get a copy now if you haven't read it), I couldn't wait to get my hands on this collection, her only work published in book form that I had yet to read. And I wasn't disappointed.The Thing Around Your Neck is a short story collection about women, the immigrant experience, things not working out the way they should and homesickness. All of the women in the stories have a connection of some kind with Nigeria; some are on their way to America to marry Nigerian men who have already made it, some are caught up in violence, some are writing about it and some are missing it with every bone in their body. Nigeria appears as almost a character in it's own right - a whirl of colours, smells, sound and vibrancy compared with a grey, bland, tasteless America.Aside from that, the other major theme that I could identify was disappointment and expectations not being met. The stories are full of Nigerian women who have moved to America anticipating a land of milk and honey and found themselves disappointed, both with their new country and their new husbands. In The Arrangers of Marriage, Chinaza is encouraged by her husband to cook only American food, change her name and be as American as possible, resulting in a deep homesickness. She can't write home about her misery as her relatives all assume she will have a big house, a car and all the perks of living in America.I had several favourite stories from the collection. One was A Private Experience, a story of an unlikely friendship between a Hausa Muslim and Igbo Christian during race riots in Nigeria. Another was On Monday of Last Week, about the loneliness of a woman working as a nanny for an American family. Although Tomorrow is Too Far didn't really fit in with the themes of the rest of the collection, it was a very creepy story about sibling rivalry.But my favourite story was Jumping Monkey Hill, about a group of upcoming African writers invited to a safari lodge in South Africa for a writing seminar by a white sponsor. It seemed as though Adichie had used this story to vent all of her frustrations about the attitude towards and labels given to African writers as most of the stories the Africans write are disparaged by the white sponsor. He wants them only to write of war, desperation, hunger and stereotypes, not the truth of their experiences and countries.To sum up, I would highly recommend this well written collection, especially if you are interested in the immigrant experience.