So I finished this book in less than 2 weeks, I was so captivated (it’s only 218 pages long though, should’ve finished it sooner. Fact remains that I was enthralled).
From the author of Half of Yellow Sun and Americanah come twelve dazzling stories. Adichie turns a penetrating eye on the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria and the West; on love and dislocation, violence and faith and the moments of epiphany that illuminate the beauty and desperation of ordinary lives.
Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them (Goodreads).
It was hard for me to choose just one story I like out of the entire book because each story was so poignant. Each one captured the emotion of the characters in a way that moved me on various levels.
Bearing this in mind, I made the decision to highlight the story which is in the middle of the book – Jumping Monkey Hill.
This particular short story centers around Ujunwa Ogundu, a writer from Lagos, Nigeria.
It is set in Cape Town, South Africa at the Jumping Monkey Hill resort; where she is attending an African Writers Workshop.
While at this workshop she has to deal with the leering looks, sexist comments and insensitive remarks made by the organizer of the event.
An old white man.
At this workshop, all the attendees are tasked to produce a story for possible publication; “they would write during the first week and review each participant’s work during the second week” (Adichie 99).
Ujunwa’s story revolves around the life of a young graduate of economics from Nsukka University in Lagos, named Chioma. She is seeking employment now and during her first interview, the interviewer offers her the job and immediately after begins to grope her. She leaves the interview in a huff (understandable); weeks of silence follow. She eventually gets a job offer at the Merchant Trust Bank to do marketing. “She will be working with Yinka. If she can bring in ten million naira during her trail period, she will be guaranteed a permanent position” (Adichie 104). She sees her first client with Yinka – an alhaji in Ikoyi. The man asks Yinka to sit on his lap while explaining the high-interest savings accounts to him; she complies leaving Chioma to grapple with her thoughts and experiences that led her to be seated in the home of the alhaji. The story ends with Chioma leaving the house, not being willing to be treated by the alhaji in the same way that Yinka is.
She turns to the door and opens it and walks out into the bright sunlight and past the Jeep in which the driver is sitting with the door hanging open, listening to the radio. “Aunty? Aunty, something happen?” he calls. She does not answer. She walks and walks, past the high gates and out to the street where she gets in a taxi and goes to the office to clear out her almost-empty desk.Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – “Jumping Monkey Hill”. The Thing Around Your Neck
Once it is Ujunwa’s turn to read her story to the group and to be reviewed, she receives mostly positive comments from her peers. As for the organizer of the workshop, Edward Campbell (the old man), he says that “It’s never quite like that in real life, is it? Women are never victims in that sort of crude way and certainly not in Nigeria” (Adichie 113). He goes on further by declaring the whole thing to be implausible (Adichie 114).
All I thought when I read his criticisms were, “How can he say that! Does he have any experience in being a Nigerian woman?” After his ridiculous (in my opinion) remarks, Ujanwa tells him that that it is in actual fact a true story that happened to her.
“The only thing I didn’t add in the story is that I left my coworker and walked out of the alhaji’s house, I got into the Jeep and insisted that the driver take me home because I knew it was the last time I would be riding in it.”(qtd in Adichie 114)
I was sort of gutted that the story ended there and didn’t continue, as I would’ve liked a description of remorse that was seen on his face! But that’s just me being petty 😁🙈!!!
With all that being said… I will never stand for the unfair, abusive and disgusting ways that women are treated. I cannot agree fully though with all the beliefs of feminism. God made men and women to compliment one another and there is beauty in each gender’s differences. Men and women will never be the same, not because of some chauvinistic beliefs but because they were designed differently by God. And those differences are to be celebrated.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Goodreads. 07 November 2020. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5587960-the-thing-around-your-neck
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “Jumping Monkey Hill”. The Thing Around Your Neck, 4th Estate London, 2017 ed, pp. 95-114.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. The Thing Around Your Neck, 4th Estate London, 2017 ed.