Tag Archives: Fiction

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Review

The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of short stories from the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She explores so many topics and themes in these short stories, with elegance and grace she holds the readers attention and just doesn’t let go.

She writes about the experiences of Nigerians living in contemporary America, about Nigerian women who find themselves in America for various reasons. Betrayed by the men they looked up to, who were supposed to give them bright futures. In ‘Imitation’, ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, ‘The Shivering’ and ‘The Arrangers Of Marriage’ she writes about their disappointment; in men, in life, in America.  She also writes about the onset of colonisation in ‘The Headstrong Historian’. About Nigerian politics, political unrest and the biafran war in ‘Cell One’, ‘A Private Experience’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The American Embassy’. About homosexuality in ‘on Monday of last week’ and ‘The Shivering’.

I love how Chimamanda breaks down the ignorance of the white man in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’. Where a  collection of writers write about their personal experiences but find themselves dismissed by a white lecherous snobby benefactor who does not believe the things they are going through are truly African. Chimamanda has spoken about the danger of a single story before and I feel like she is reminding us in this short story. Despite claiming to be a keen Africanist having lived on the continent for so long, the character is blind to the fact that Africans can be lesbians or that professional women are expected to present their bodies and sexuality as part of the commodities for sale during the negotiation of contracts. This white man, stands there and argues what the true African experience is and what is a valid story for an African to write.

Adichie reminds us that the African experience is multifaceted, very obviously in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’ and throughout the collection.

‘The headstrong historian’ is probably the best story in this book. It read like a shout out to Chinua Achebe and was an amazing way to end the collection. However, my favourite of the short stories was ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ because it is so emotional. Because it is a collection of so many niggly feelings that you can’t quite explain. So many questions that you might not even want answered.

The thing around your neck is 5/5 for me, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates so many lump in the throat moments. The book was so easy to read and i wished it would not end. Her stories are so deliciously told that only after you have consumed them with gusto do you realise that you have learned so much from her amazing storytelling.

Happy Reading ❤

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Review:

I feel late to this party, Things Fall Apart has been a great novel long before I was even born. Nevertheless, here are a few of my thoughts on it.

I love the way Chinua writes, the way he explains traditions and phenomenons are practical and beautiful.

“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”

This book for me is a story of great sorrow. It is about the loss of culture in the name of civilisation. It is the story of how hundreds of African settlements  were destroyed in the name of western progress. It is a story of the arrogance of western society and I couldn’t be more glad that Chinua Achebe wrote it, lest we forget.

Things fall apart has been criticised by some claiming “nothing interesting happened”. Apart from the slow painful tearing down of a civilisation that just so happened to be different… I found a lot of interesting things did happen. Things happened to Okonkwo and members of his family (No spoilers). There were moments I was on the edge of my seat. But what is considered “interesting” differs from person to person, so let ye be the judge.

On the subject of misogyny, having myself been called a feminazi (for simply asserting that I think men and women should be equal), it’s safe to say I’m a feminist. I won’t sit here and say there was no misogyny present in this book. It portrays women as being owned by their fathers and then by husbands, serving little other purpose than to bear children. Having said that, the book tells us of the high priestess – A woman with the power to veto decisions made by the elders and clansmen. Did someone say bad bitch?

The ending – Unexpected. I hated Okonkwo at first, I expected more resilience and defiance from him. But he was a proud man, and we know what comes before a fall.

 

Happy Reading ❤

 

The Folly by Ivan Vladislavic

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Review:

& other stories brings us the work of Ivan Vladislavic, a celebrated South African writer. The Folly is an inventive tale of the unlikely friendship that blooms between two neighbours.

Mr and Mrs Malgas live simple lives, until a mysterious stranger appears on the unoccupied plot next door. Mr is keen to make acquaintance whereas Mrs remains sceptical and prefers to keep a distance from this suspicious creature.

Nieuwenhuizen arrives at his inherited acre with a headful of interesting ideas for a magnificent mansion. Father, as Nieuwenhuizen prefers to be called, makes tools and cutlery from any rubbish he can find – he is clearly resourceful. Soon he enlists the assistance of a trusting and willing Mr Malgas, who sets about clearing the land, prepping for the mansion he expects to see.

In this short fiction Ivan explores some interesting themes; ownership, trust, deceit and power. He highlights how easily a willing mind can be taken for a ride. In post-apartheid South Africa, should you love or fear your neighbour? Ivan’s characters are written with such depth, he explores their subtle mannerisms such that I feel I have walked with them. His command of language and attention to detail is exquisite, and has resulted in a mysteriously funny but serious novel.

The folly is an imaginative book for the sophisticated mind.

Written for Buzz Magazine Cardiff – Happy Reading ❤

Clowns Shoes By Rebecca F. John

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Review:

***4 stars***

 

Clown’s shoes is the captivating collection of short stories brought to us from the mind of Swansea writer Rebecca F. John.

She showcases seemingly ordinary people living out extraordinary situations with each story taking the form of a snapshot in the timeline of each characters life. We see snippets of lives that are full of disappointments, tragedy, love, loss and disguised blessings. In this collection we walk with characters that despite all of life’s hardships, are full of hope.

The author’s descriptions are powerful and the omission of a name for some characters made it easier for me as a reader to stand in their place, to feel in their place.

The stories are tantalisingly dark yet optimistic, an incredible combination to achieve and I was definitely left wanting more.

Happy Reading

Book review : The Fly Guy by Colum Sanson-Regan

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My Thoughts:

***3.5 stars***

 

The Fly Guy is the debut novel of musician, actor and now, author Colum Sanson-Regan. He writes a sinister thriller that explores the creative process and questions how much control artists have over their creations.

Martin Tripp is a struggling writer who appears to strike gold when he creates Henry Bloomburg, a private investigator. Henry has solved a lot of unusual cases although one mystery still eludes him, the case of The Fly Guy… a deviant man who seems to slip through the streets unnoticed, appearing to shadow the dead.

Martin writes the interconnected stories of a drug dealer, a bodyguard, a private investigator and Lucy. When Martin finds himself getting stuck on their stories, he buries them. In real life he embraces change in the form of routine and a more conventional way of life. But when Martin spots someone he shouldn’t, someone he can’t possibly be seeing, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. Martin finds that he can no longer control Henry’s timeline, his obsession with the Fly guy’s identity threatens everything that Martin has built.

Martin is initially like-able and relatable, but as the story progressed I became apprehensive. Where exactly does his inspiration come from? The story concludes in such a way that I had to draw some of my own conclusions. Is the mystery solved? How exactly are these lives connected?  There are many unanswered questions which serve to add mystery to the story but perhaps an equally thrilling sequel would be appropriate to provide some closure. From a mind that is no stranger to creativity and science fiction, we are presented with the lives of multiple people from different worlds that intersect, bringing chaos to their creator. The Fly guy is a gripping novel that will keep you unsure till the end.