The Thing Around Your Neck

What Does It Mean to Be a Nigerian Immigrant in America?

The Thing Around Your Neck centers on Nigerians, the Nigerian diaspora, and the performance of living between two cultures.

These short stories explore what connects us to each other and our country of origin.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is adept at telling stories about the Nigerian immigrant experience in the U.S. and the struggle to maintain values and culture while formulating an identity. Her narrators, whether in Nigeria or the U.S., are mainly women and the choice is deliberate.

Through her stories, Chimamanda effortlessly poses the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to be a Nigerian immigrant in America? Or to be a Nigerian American who lives in Nigeria?
  2. Who constructs the boundaries of what each experience means and does not mean?
  3. What do these hyphenated identities truly represent?
  4. Is the thing around our necks our national identities?
  5. Do we wear these identities as expensive gold pendants- that at times, weigh us down?
  6. What is it like to be neither here nor there?
  7. Is life in the U.S. actually any better than life back home?

Chimamanda’s characters in The Thing Around Your Neck embody the experiences of people who are trying to find answers to these questions.

By the end, we get a glimpse of what life might be like to live between two countries that are economically and socially different, yet full of people who share the same human emotions and struggles.

Read more selections by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele…

You may enjoy these short stories by Chinua Achebe and Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Girls at War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe
Girls at War and Other Stories
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky