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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2009
This is the best selection of short stories I have ever read. Chimamanda's ability to draw you into each of the characters in such a small space of time is phenomenal. The short stories are focused upon Nigerian life, but many of them are based in other countries. The balance between tragedy and happiness is perfect, leading to a book which does not dwell on hardship, but shows vivid glimpses of it, making the messages come across far more powerfully than continual horrific scenes.

Each story is unique, and although they all contain Nigerian characters, none have the same atmosphere or feel like repetitions of the same idea. The book is very easy to read, and is the perfect introduction to her writing style, as Half of a Yellow Sun, although amazing, is very long.

The only flaw in this book is that I was left yearning to know more about each character. I could easily have read whole novels based on each short story, in fact I'd be happy to read a book written by her once a month for the rest of my life! Sorry for gushing, but talent like this needs to be read by everyone!

Highly recommended to everyone!!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 March 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After reading and enjoying Adichie's debut "Purple Hibiscus" and the follow up "Half of a Yellow Sun," I was eagerly anticipating this collection of twelve short stories from the Nigerian author and it doesn't disappoint.

"The Thing Around Your Neck" is similar to her previous work in that the stories focus on Nigerian culture and issues, however I found the stories easier to read. I think this is perhaps because they had a more contemporary and somewhat Westernised feel compared to her 2 novels set in the 60's. Many of the short stories are also influenced by the time Adichie now spends in America.

I would recommend Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and all her works highly and look forward to reading more from her in the future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What a wonderful book. I somehow overlooked this gifted Nigerian-born author's first two novels but now plan to read them at the first opportunity.

These stories are original, compelling and absorbing. Adichie manages to draw you in, filling you with confidence in her story-telling, and all within a few sentences. I love her writing - her use of language and the ease with which stories seem to roll off her pen. In particular, the bemusement felt by characters who find themselves in America for the first time is oh-so cleverly portrayed.

Some of the stories seem to end a little prematurely, abruptly even, but that is simply down to economy of style and leaves you free to use a little imagination. Mind you, there is probably room for each to be developed into a book in its own right.

This is certainly my favourite collection of short stories and I would urge anyone to try them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 July 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an excellent book, filled with beautifully written stories about life in Nigeria, and the experiences of Nigerians in America. I often find short story collections underwhelming, but this one doesn't disappoint, especially after having read the author's previous book Half of a Yellow Sun. There are a couple of stories that are weaker than the rest, but not enough to let the book as a whole down.

Stories such as 'A Private Experience' and 'The American Embassy' return to the theme of political and civil unrest in Nigeria, and both are powerful and moving pieces about how people deal with turmoil and loss. 'The Thing Around Your Neck' and 'The Arrangers of Marriage' explore young women who have moved to the US for a new life that has not lived up to their expectations. The cultural differences between America and Africa, and even recent and long-term immigrants are presented as vast and confusing.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a brilliant and intelligent writer and I would recommend her books to anyone who enjoys literature. This collection is poignant and moving, and full of life.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My idea of a perfect short story is a tale of about 25 pages that doesn't attempt to resolve or explain everything in that space, but instead leaves the reader wanting to read the finished novel - should it ever be written!

When it's done well, a collection of these stories would potentially leave you demanding that the author write full novels for each of them, just so you can see how it ends up. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can expect to see my letter in the post, because I want to read the completed stories for all of her tales collected here.

Essentially, she's being a big tease!

The writing style is fluid and not wasteful of language, and although some of the themes are similar (well read Nigerians ending up at the bottom of the ladder when they get to America), the characters are distinct enough, and their stories are also different enough. Absolutely perfect to dip in and out of, or even better to sit and read in one hit. Recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is officially one author whose work I will buy anytime something new is out with no worry, she's passed the test. Her short stories are as exciting & insightful as her first two novels. From the start of each story she captivates you. Interstingly enough, her stories could be set anywhere in the world and it's not restricted by race, class & all the usual divisive categories. I wanted more after the ending of each story in a good way. The stories are strong from the start with a good variety of subjects, arranged marriages, polictical intrigue & murders,conflict between modern & tradional customs, emigration. I espcially love the fact that all Ngozie's characters are able to think, they're not one dimensional. Buy the book I promise it won't disappoint. The stories are insightful but not heavy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2009
Unlike many, I was largely unimpressed - and frankly disappointed - by the self-conscious, overblown nature of 'Half Of A Yellow Sun' with its annoying, cardboard cut-out characters in spite of the importance of the subject addressed i.e. the Nigerian civil war. Thankfully, 'The Thing Around...' sees Miss Adichie return to the more subtle approach that made her first book 'Purple Hibiscus' such an outstanding debut. Her economic use of language is her forté. Adichie is neither abstract nor does she underestimate the intelligence of her readers by giving us too much information. Yet there is simply so much going on in these vignettes and so much depth to the characters despite each tale really not being very long at all. A host of issues and themes simmer under the surface of each of the stories in 'The Thing Around...'. This is no small feat and I can only put this down to the effortless quality of her writing. The underlying theme of most of the collection - that of the culture clash experienced by those moving from developing countries to the West - is hardly new. Yet Adichie brings a fresh perspective, breathing life into a well-worn topic. I especially enjoyed her relentless critique of American life, it's displaced priorities and values that so many Nigerians who emigrate there are willing to adopt. She doesn't spare her own country -or the African continent as a whole- from her beady observations either. A couple of things, however did irk me. I felt there were aspects of tokenism in some of the stories as the author seemed overly-intent on appealing to the LGBT community. There were also some side-swipes at the charismatic churches of Nigeria which I felt had more to do with Adichie being perhaps a lapsed Catholic, nevertheless regarding with a slight contempt those who were not part of the 'true' faith. There is plenty to make one cynical about the state of Nigerian churches at home and abroad but there are also lots of positive things going on if we care to look for them. She's far too intelligent to get away with making generalisations and so it didn't sit well with me when she did.

That said, I felt overall 'The Thing Around...' was a return to form for Adichie after being disillusioned by what was to me a highly-overrated second novel. This is one of the most consistent short story collections I have read so far and confirms once again, Adichie's enviably natural style of writing. A true literary star of my generation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 20 August 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chimamanda Adichie is a wonderful storyteller. The tales in this book are a fascinating collection dealing with how ordinary people deal with and are changed by the often extraordinary (although not always) events that often form part of day to day life in Africa. For example; the dramatic psychological transformation of a young man from arrogant, irresponsible youth to an empathic and compassionate adult - after an encounter with arbitrary violence - is described beautifully through the eyes of his sister. Then there is the young woman who finds solace in the presenece of a young muslim woman with whom she shelters during a riot...her resilience and dignity in the face of suffering acting as an emotional sanctuary both during the intial violence and the aftermath. These are just a small taste....

I really enjoyed this book, I found it easy to read and I feel the author has a great deal of insight into the human heart, however the only reason I would stop short of giving it 5 stars is that I found it difficult to find any JOY in the book, perhaps the authors intention is to lay bare honest realities - and this book does that beautifully, but having visted numerous places such as are described in the book andmet similar people I have always felt that joy lives amongst the heartache and harsh realities - but I think to find it and describe it is extremely difficult without being considered saccharine and perhaps dishonest. I can only think of a few authors who have managed it, such as Kuki Gallmann in her memoirs or the very poular Khaled Hosseni or Dostoyevsky or more recently Mark Matousek. Nonetheless this is an excellent read and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a set of short stories, mostly about people who don't quite fit into their surroundings - the author uses this detatchment to make the reader feel that they are looking at the world from the same perspective as the main characters, whilst describing their inner thoughts in quick but fine detail - there are times when I could feel the emotions being attributed to them; I don't think I've ever felt this quite so intensely when reading a book before.

The stories themselves all contain a moment of realisation; an event or thought that changes the character in a fundamental way; they often don't have a beginning, middle or end as such, but they always leave you wanting more. Although a lot of the tales are quite sad, there are very funny moments when she describes supporting characters as seen through the eyes of the central one.

It says in the blurb that she spends most of her time between the States and Nigeria, and these stories reflect that - many of them are about women who have moved to America to be with husbands, and they capture what it must be like to see that culture as an outsider who comes from a very different one.

The stories themselves live on with me - I wish that I hadn't read them all so gluttonously, because if I had read one a week I would have had time to contemplate them further. I couldn't stop myself though.

I found the first story the most difficult to get into; partly it was a matter of getting used to the writing style which was very different to what I was used to; there's very few contractions used in the language, and in my imagination I could hear the accent of my Nigerian friends talking, which took me a while to get used to.

So I really do recommend this book if you like emotionally literate language that transports you into the mind of another. It's amazing how she can create such complex characters in so few pages, and I'll be searching out her novels for sure.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's collection of short stories is a delightful insight into the life of Nigeria and Nigerians - both at home and abroad. Each one is a little cameo, demonstrating the fascinating history of Nigerians and the problems they face today. The characters never fail to surprise and their touching stories are complete in themselves. She really knows how to write in this form, leaving nothing out that is vital and yet putting in nothing superfluous. Excellent.
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