Review by Booklist Review
As richly modulated as MacArthur fellow Adichie's hard-hitting novels are, her short stories are equally well-tooled and potent. As her first collection arcs between Nigeria and the U.S., Adichie takes measure of the divide between men and women and different classes and cultures. A meticulous observer of tactile detail and emotional nuance, Adichie moves sure-footedly from the personal to the communal as she illuminates with striking immediacy the consequences of prejudice, corruption, tyranny, and violence in war-torn Nigeria and unaware America. A teenage girl tells the harrowing story of her spoiled, frivolous brother's abrupt awakening to brutality and compassion in jail. A Nigerian woman living patiently in America with her children and without her husband finally breaks out of the chrysalis of her compliance. Two women from warring factions take shelter together during a riot. Adichie's graceful and slicing stories of characters struggling with fear, anger, and sorrow beautifully capture the immense resonance of small things as the larger world pitches into incoherence.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) stays on familiar turf in her deflated first story collection. The tension between Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans, and the question of what it means to be middle-class in each country, feeds most of these dozen stories. Best known are "Cell One," and "The Headstrong Historian," which have both appeared in the New Yorker and are the collection's finest works. "Cell One," in particular, about the appropriation of American ghetto culture by Nigerian university students, is both emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. Most of the other stories in this collection, while brimming with pathos and rich in character, are limited. The expansive canvas of the novel suits Adichie's work best; here, she fixates mostly on romantic relationships. Each story's observations illuminate once; read in succession, they take on a repetitive slice-of-life quality, where assimilation and gender roles become ready stand-ins for what could be more probing work. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
This is a fine new collection of 12 short stories by the young Nigerian author of Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. The stories are set both in the United States and in Nigeria, where things continue to fall apart. A privileged college student gets involved in gang violence; innocent women flee from a bloody riot; some characters are visited by ghosts, while others are haunted by the memory of war. Yet as one character puts it, an easier life in the United States is cushioned by so much convenience that it feels sterile. Relations between the races are awkward at best. The title story probes the emotional gulf between a young immigrant woman and her well-off white American boyfriend. The closing story, "The Headstrong Historian," is a miniature portrait of the colonial legacy in Nigeria. Adichie, a brilliant writer whose characters stay with you for a long time, deserves to be more widely known. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/09.]-Leslie Patterson, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A dozen stories about the lives of Nigerians at home and in America from the winner of the Orange Broadband Prize. In the five tales set in the United States, Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun, 2006, etc.) profiles characters both drawn to America and cautious of assimilation. "Imitation" centers on Nkem, who lives with her two Americanized children in a large house in the Philadelphia suburbs filled with reproductions of tribal masks (the originals are in British museums). Her husband visits from Nigeria for only a few months each year, and when she hears he has moved his girlfriend into their Lagos house, Nkem begins to consider the authenticity of her American life, wondering if it's too late to go home. In "The Arrangers of Marriage," a young woman arrives in New York with her brand-new husband, who seemed fine on paper but proves not to be quite what he claimed. Ofodile is not yet a doctor, just an intern; their "house" is a sparsely furnished apartment in Flatbush; and Dave, as he prefers to be called, has fairly stringent ideas of what it takes to be American, like no sugar in tea and no spicy smells polluting their hallway. The very fine "Jumping Monkey Hill" and the title story both show Nigerian women confronting white expectations. In the first, Ujunwa has won a stay at a writer's retreat outside Cape Town. The organizer, a British Africanist, has his own ideas as to what constitutes authentic African writinglesbians are out, revolution is inand does not like her tale of feminist struggle in Lagos. "The Thing Around Your Neck" refers to loneliness, which nearly chokes a young immigrant woman working as a waitress in Connecticut, but even as she feels its grip loosening, she remains wary of her new American boyfriend, "because white people who like Africa too much and those who like Africa too little were the samecondescending." Insightful and illuminating. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.