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With The Thing Around Your Neck, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives readers a collection of twelve impeccably crafted short stories. Adichie, author of the novels Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, brings her home country vividly to life, from life under military regimes to the challenges and pains of emigrating.

During a busy week, I carried this book around and squeezed in a story whenever I could. The aching sorrow in these stories meant that I sat in a doctor’s waiting room with tears about to brim over, swallowing a large lump in my throat. Mug of coffee in hand, the surprising humor of Adichie’s writing caused a laugh to burst out into my quiet kitchen.

Tales of immoral police, corrupt regimes, and racist colonial powers broke my heart. No less moving were stories of heartache that transcend cultural boundaries—infidelity, the loss of a child, the confusions of growing up.

Three of the stories did not move me as much as the others. It is hard to say whether it was a problem of the style of the story, or if the subject matter in those stories was simply less natural for the writer. Perhaps my criticism comes only from personal preference, and I found those particular characters to be less interesting.

Adichie fills her stories with powerful women. As I finished the stories, I wished I could invite Ujunwa, Ukamaka, Chinaza, Nwamgba, and Ugonna’s mother for tea. Through these tales, Adichie offers tender, and even surprisingly humorous, glimpses of lives in a world crying out for change.

This book is the fourth I have read for the African Diaspora Reading Challenge hosted by fabulous blogger BrownGirl Speaks. I encourage you to participate.

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