The Thing Around Your Neck
June and July are all about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for me. Not only is my book club reading both of her novels "Purple Hibiscus" and "Half of the Yellow Sun," but now she has a book of short fiction that you know I have to read. I love love love short fiction as a genre and when you get a great writer, well, I'm just not sure if there is anything better! Now I have already introduced you to two of Ms. Adichie's short stories (here and here), but let's be honest, a whole book of short fiction is so much better!
For me, the best thing a writer can do is tell a story; one in which the reader fits into the shoes of the characters, understands them so intimately, that the end of the story feels like a personal loss. I know this may seem extremely obvious, but I have read many a books in which the authors did not realize that this was their task. Like an seasoned designer who automatically knows the perfect type of lighting a room needs, Adichie knows just what a story needs to take it from basic to brilliant. Before you can even think twice, she draws you into her tale, transporting you to Lagos, Maine, Connecticut or anywhere else her imagination has created.
In preparing for this post, I read the title story (here) and what I can say is that you will not under any circumstance be disappointed in the stories you find here. Here is a little sample:
"The first weeks you wanted to write though, because you had stories to tell. You wanted to write about the surprising openness of people in America, how eagerly they told you about their mother fighting cancer, about their sister-in-law's premature baby - things people should hide, should reveal only to the family members who wished them well. You wanted to write about the way people left so much food on their plates and crumpled a few dollar bills down, as though it was an offering, expiation for the wasted food. You wanted to write about the child who started to cry and pull at her blonde hair and instead of the parents making her shut up, they pleaded with her and then they all got up and left."
If running to the nearest bookstore to pick up this gem isn't on your agenda for today, simply take a few minutes to read on of the three stories linked above. If you have 5 mins and 39 secs you can also click here to listen to a nice interview of the author over on NPRs All Things Considered.