Picks and Pans Review: Rich Tales Out of Africa

UPDATED 06/29/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/29/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie |

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In the first of these 12 haunting stories set in Nigeria and the U.S., a spoiled college student doing a stint in a Nigerian prison finds he can't keep silent when the police harass an elderly inmate. In another, what seems like an excellent arranged marriage is doomed once the bride joins her husband in Brooklyn and learns he's an overbearing bore. "We overcook food back home and...lose all the nutrients," he tells her at a mall's food court. "Americans cook things right. See how healthy they all look?" And for the lonely narrator of the collection's title story, falling in love means "the thing that wrapped itself around your neck, that nearly choked you before you fell asleep" is finally loosened. Adichie, a Nigerian who has studied in the U.S., writes with wisdom and compassion about her countrymen's experiences as foreigners, both in America and in their changing homeland. Hers is one of fiction's most compelling new voices.


Adichie made a splash with her critically acclaimed 2006 novel Half of a Yellow Sun, about twin sisters struggling to survive amid the violence of 1960s Nigeria.

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