From Publishers Weekly
Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun
) stays on familiar turf in her deflated first story collection. The tension between Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans, and the question of what it means to be middle-class in each country, feeds most of these dozen stories. Best known are "Cell One," and "The Headstrong Historian," which have both appeared in the New Yorker
and are the collection's finest works. "Cell One," in particular, about the appropriation of American ghetto culture by Nigerian university students, is both emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. Most of the other stories in this collection, while brimming with pathos and rich in character, are limited. The expansive canvas of the novel suits Adichie's work best; here, she fixates mostly on romantic relationships. Each story's observations illuminate once; read in succession, they take on a repetitive slice-of-life quality, where assimilation and gender roles become ready stand-ins for what could be more probing work. (June)
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A country famously known to the West for its e-mail scams, Nigeria is indebted to Adichie for these graceful and evocative stories that portray it as the rich and diverse nation it truly is. They also demonstrate her keen insight into the rough terrain of human nature beset by external demands and pressures. Adichie, compared to a "hostess" (San Francisco Chronicle
) who invites her achingly believable characters fully formed into her stories, treats her protagonists -- mostly women -- with respect and compassion. A few minor complaints included less-convincing American characters and some awkward endings, but all critics recognized Adichie as an accomplished storyteller whose careful study of her native land illuminates its foreignness as well as the similarities between us all.