The Thing Around Your Neck

The Thing Around Your Neck is a short-story collection by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, first published in April 2009 by Fourth Estate in the UK and by Knopf in the US. It received many positive reviews, including: "She makes storytelling seem as easy as birdsong" (Daily Telegraph);[1] "Stunning. Like all fine storytellers, she leaves us wanting more" (The Times).[2]

The Thing Around Your Neck
First UK edition
AuthorChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
PublisherFourth Estate (UK)
Alfred A. Knopf (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint, Audio & eBook


  • "Cell One" (first published in The New Yorker); in which a spoilt brother and son of a professor is sent to a Nigerian prison and ends up in the infamous Cell One.
  • "Imitation" (first published in Other Voices) is set in Philadelphia and concerns Nkem, a young mother whose art-dealer husband visits only 2 months a year. She finds out that his lover has moved into their Lagos home.
  • "A Private Experience" (first published in Virginia Quarterly Review) in which two women caught up in a riot between Christians and Muslims take refuge in an abandoned shop. This story highlighted the friendliness and peace between two women with different religions. It is told in a third person's narrative so that the readers are put in an omniscient position to understand this idea.
  • "Ghosts" (first published in Zoetrope: All-Story) in which a retired university professor looks back on his life.
  • "On Monday of Last Week" (first published in Granta 98: The Deep End) in which Kamara, a Nigerian woman who has joined her husband in America takes a job as a nanny to an upper-class family and becomes obsessed with the mother.
  • "Jumping Monkey Hill" (first published in Granta 95: Loved Ones) is the most autobiographical story;[3] it is set in Cape Town at a writers' retreat where authors from all over Africa gather, and tells of the conflicts experienced by the young Nigerian narrator.
  • "The Thing Around Your Neck" (first published in Prospect 99) a woman named Akunna gains a sought-after American visa and goes to live with her uncle; but he molests her and she ends up working as a waitress in Connecticut.
  • "The American Embassy" (first published in PRISM international) in which a woman applies for asylum but ends up walking away, unwilling to describe her son's murder for the sake of a visa.
  • "The Shivering", set on the campus of Princeton University it concerns a Catholic Nigerian woman whose boyfriend has left her, finding solace in the earnest prayers of a stranger who knocks at her door.
  • "The Arrangers of Marriage" (first published as "New Husband" in Iowa Review) in which a newly married wife arrives in New York City with her husband; and finds she is unable to accept his rejection of their Nigerian identity.
  • "Tomorrow Is Too Far" (first published in Prospect 118) a young woman reveals the devastating secret of her brother's death.
  • "The Headstrong Historian" (first published in The New Yorker) covers the life-story of a woman called Nwangba, who believes her husband was killed by his cousins and is determined to regain the inheritance for her son through his education by missionaries. Though her son didn't realise what she hoped, her granddaughter managed to retrieve it, highlighting the significance of holding one's past and one's origin in order to thrive in the future.



  1. ^ Jane Shilling (2009-04-02). "The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  2. ^ Lech Mintowt-Czyz (2012-03-24). "UK News, World News and Opinion". The Times. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  3. ^ ""Cell One," "On Monday of Last Week," "Jumping Monkey Hill," and "The Shivering" « A Striped Armchair". Retrieved 2012-03-24.

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