The Thing Around Your Neck

The Thing Around Your Neck Study Guide

The Thing Around Your Neck is a short story collection written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The book consists of twelve stories that focus on the lives of Nigerians living in both Africa and in the United States. Many of the stories in the collection had been published individually or as part of other publications between 2003-2008. The stories are tied together by their common themes of post-colonial African society, inequalities between men and women, the quest for education, and intergenerational trauma. Adichie, a Nigerian author who moved to the United States at age 19, draws on her own immigration story in many of these works.

The Thing Around Your Neck was published in 2009. Aside from her own personal narrative, Adichie's stories draw inspiration from various real-life experiences. Historical contextualization plays an important role throughout the collection. "The Headstrong Historian" follows a family history from the period of British colonization until the post-colonial period of the 1980s. In addition, the plane crash that prompts Ukumaka and Chinedu to become friends in "The Shivering" takes inspiration from the 2005 Sosoliso plane crash. By incorporating historical events into these fictional narratives, Adichie aims to bring truth and relatability to each story.

The Thing Around Your Neck is the author's third book and first collection of short stories. Following its publication, the collection received worldwide recognition. The book has been translated into nineteen different languages. It has been nominated for numerous awards, such as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. "The American Embassy," a story that is included in this collection, was the recipient for the O. Henry Prize in 2003.