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ABOUT THE BOOK
From a disciple of the late Chinua Achebe comes a masterful and universally acclaimed novel that is at once a taut, literary thriller and an indictment of greed’s power to subsume all things, including the sacred.
Foreign Gods, Inc., tells the story of Ike, a New York-based Nigerian cab driver who sets out to steal the statue of an ancient war deity from his home village and sell it to a New York Arts Gallery.
Ike’s plan is fuelled by desperation. Despite a degree in Economics from a major American college, his strong accent has barred him from the corporate world. Forced to eke out a living as a cab driver, he is unable to manage the emotional and material needs of a temperamental African American bride and a widowed mother demanding financial support. When he turns to gambling, his mounting losses compound his woes.
And so, he travels back to Nigeria to steal the statue, where he has to deal with old friends, family, and a mounting conflict between those in the village who worship the deity, and those who practice Christianity.
A meditation on the dreams, promises and frustrations of the immigrant life in America; the nature and impact of religious conflicts; an examination of how modern culture creates or heightens infatuation with the “exotic,” including the desire to own strange objects and hanker after ineffable illusions; and an exploration of the shifting nature of memory, Foreign Gods is a brilliant work of fiction that illuminates our globally interconnected world like no other.
“Razor-sharp … Mr. Ndibe invests his story with enough dark comedy to make Ngene an odoriferous presence in his own right, and certainly not the kind of polite exotic rarity that art collectors are used to … In Mr. Ndibe’s agile hands, he’s both a source of satire and an embodiment of pure terror.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“A story of sweeping cultural insight and absurd comedy … rendered with a stoic power that moves the reader more than histrionics possibly could.”
—The Washington Post
“We clearly have fresh talent at work here. It is quite a while since I sensed creative promise on this level.”
—Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
A book every Nigerian would want to read…
Foreign Gods, Inc. does an excellent job of examining some of the less-talked-about challenges that immigrants, particularly African immigrants, face while trying to survive in a foreign country. From the long-drawn-out struggle to overcome the negative effects of colonialism to the current efforts of youths to leave the shores of a teetering country and seek greener pastures in Europe or America, Ndibe’s novel identifies with the African society, and his character Ike, a Nigerian man, speaks to the Nigerian youth.
It is a book every Nigerian would want to, and should, read. Ike believes that his entire life will change for the better by moving to and studying in the United States. However, he discovers that there are many things in his way, none more so than his strong foreign accent. Turned inside out by the bride he marries to get a green card and the constant requests for money from his mother and sister in Nigeria, Ike comes up with a mad plan to travel back home, steal the statue of a war god and sell it in America to change his fortunes – but sometimes even idols have a life and power of their own. Kudos to Okey Ndibe for this wonderful novel.
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