This week we say a fond farewell to our Reading Resources Intern Drew but before she heads off on the next big adventure she’s got a Read of the Week to share – The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of 12 short stories with Nigerian women at their heart. Exploring life in Nigeria, on the African continent and the experience of expatriation in the West these stories cast an insightful eye on individuals’ relationships with their own nation, culture, identity and with other people. A personal favourite for me was The Headstrong Historian which follows a family through the generations that come both before and after the formal colonisation of Nigeria.
“It was Grace who would read about these savages, titillated by their curious and meaningless customs, not connecting them to herself until her teacher, Sister Maureen, told her she could not refer to the call-and-response her grandmother had taught her as poetry because primitive tribes did not have poetry.”
Throughout the collection Adichie presents the reader with intimate articulations of empowerment (in Jumping Monkey Hill, and The Arrangers of Marriage) as well as the navigation of oppression (see Cell One, The American Embassy). Though the stories are often rooted within the specific experiences of Nigerian womanhood, they speak to everyone with their focus on universal experiences of loss, love, shame and pride.