Posted on | August 18, 2009 | 15 Comments
choked you before you fell asleep.”
I enjoyed this volume; Adichie’s writing is evocative and intense but I didn’t think that the stories had the same impact as her novels. Some stood out and overall I found the political ones, the ones set in Nigeria, to be more powerful, especially “The American Embassy”. In the others, she focused on the alienation of Nigerians living in the United States and I found them to be a little cold and disconnected, even jarring, which may have been the point to evoke the incongruity and the hard work of adjusting to a new country, culture, and language. Anyway, I liked those stories but I didn’t emotionally connect with them as I did the others.
The stand-out story for me was the last in the volume, “The Headstrong Historian”, which can be read here. Not set in recent Nigeria nor in America, this story is about the wife of a fringe character from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and parallels the great African Literature story of Okonkwo. In Adichie’s debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, she pays tribute to Achebe, the “grandfather of African Literature (an accolade paid by Nelson Mandela), and in this story she does so again by telling the story of the wife of Obierika, Okonkwo’s wife. Set amongst the Igbo tribe in the fictional villages of Umuofia, it tells the struggle of Nwambga ,following the death of Obierika, to provide for their son Anikwenwa, with the help of White missionaries. I re-read Things Fall Apart four years ago so my memory was not fresh enough to say how closely the story parallels the events of the novel but I noticed a couple of clever allusions, the same recalled memory or cultural tale. By far, this was the story that most impressed me.
Have you read these stories? How do you think they compare to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels, if you have read them?