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Foreign Gods, Inc.
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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 gallery. Ike's plan is fueled 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 the ways in which 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.From the Hardcover edition.

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Street Date:
01/14/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781616953140
ASIN:
B00E2RWQJU
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APA Citation (style guide)

Okey Ndibe. (2014). Foreign Gods, Inc. Soho Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Okey Ndibe. 2014. Foreign Gods, Inc. Soho Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Okey Ndibe, Foreign Gods, Inc. Soho Press, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Okey Ndibe. Foreign Gods, Inc. Soho Press, 2014. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Okey Ndibe first came to the US to take up appointment as the founding editor of African Commentary, a magazine published by Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. He has been a visiting professor at Brown University, Connecticut College, Simon's Rock College, Trinity College, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). His award-winning journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Hartford Courant, where he served on the editorial board. Ndibe is also the author of Arrows of Rain, and earned his MFA and PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He lives in West Hartford, CT, with his wife, Sheri, and their three children.

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shortDescription

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 gallery.

Ike's plan is fueled 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...

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title
Foreign Gods, Inc.
fullDescription

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 gallery.

Ike's plan is fueled 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 the ways in which 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Janet Maslin, The New York Times
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michael Schaub, NPR
      • content: "Okey Ndibe's novel is dramatic and wonderfully detailed, and his prose is absolutely beautiful--he's a deeply generous writer with an excellent ear for dialogue."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: "A story of sweeping cultural insight and absurd comedy . . . rendered with a stoic power that moves the reader more than histrionics possibly could."
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: "Unforgettable . . . Ndibe seems to have a boundless ear fo' the lyrical turns of phrase of the working people of rural Nigeria . . . The wooden deity "has character, an audacious personality,' says one non-African who sees it. So does Ndibe's novel, a page-turning allegory about the globalized world."
      • premium: False
      • source: GQ Magazine
      • content: "A hard look at the American dream, which seems to be receding further and further into the distance these days."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
      • content: "This is precisely the kind of novel that makes one anti-social. If you find it today, sprint home, throw away your cellphone, bolt the front door and don't worry too much if you are not up in time for church tomorrow."
      • premium: False
      • source: Chicago Tribune
      • content: "Captures the character of the intelligent yet deluded Ike, whose trip to Nigeria puts him face to face with the yawning need of nearly everyone he knows. And where there isn't need, there is greed."
      • premium: False
      • source: Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
      • content: "We clearly have a fresh talent at work here. It is quite a while since I sensed creative promise on this level."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Root
      • content: "An entertaining, witty adventure . . . Foreign Gods, Inc. is an intelligent, satirical novel that comes highly anticipated and does not disappoint."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian (UK)
      • content: "A morality tale for our time . . . With subtle hints at moral turmoil, a gift for dark humour, and characterisation that is perceptive and neatly observed, Ndibe manages to persuade the reader to root for Ike, even as his haphazard plans begin to unravel."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian Africa Network
      • content: "Dazzling . . . It's already obvious that 2014 is going to be a big year for African novels . . . but Okey Ndibe is bound to set himself apart from the pack. Who doesn't want to read a novel about a good god heist?"
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Daily News
      • content: "Bitter, sweet, pulpy, and rich in flavor, Okey Ndibe's second novel Foreign Gods, Inc. reads like the uncracked innards of a strange fruit. Each sentence a carefully crafted, holistic expression of Ndibe's eloquence, smacks of a master at work."
      • premium: False
      • source: Paste Magazine
      • content: "Brims with warmth, vibrancy and color . . . Just about perfect."
      • premium: False
      • source: Manhattan Magazine
      • content: "A New York novel, an everyman immigrant story, and a moving page-turner wrapped into one."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Journal of Books
      • content: "Ndibe is a writer's writer, and this book is a lesson in the art of the novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Charles R. Larson, CounterPunch
      • content: "Okey Ndibe's Foreign Gods, Inc is one of the most impressive African novels that I have read in years. Comic, sad--even tragic--Ndibe is a master craftsman, weaving his narrative with ethnic materials (and surprises) and a profundity that will startle you by the end of the story . . . Ikechukwu Uzondu's journey into his past is as moving and frightful as Brutus Jones' fate in Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece, The Emperor Jones. Clearly, this is one writer to watch. Moreover, his insights into both America and Nigeria will take your breath away."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Cleveland
      • content: "A freshly and heartbreakingly recast tale of American immigration, with all its longings, disappointments, effacements and reclamations."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from October 21, 2013
        In Nigerian-born Ndibe's (Arrows of Rain) new novel, Ikechukwu "Ike" Uzondu is a hapless N.Y.C. taxi driver stymied at every turn—his rent is past due, his Amherst education means less to potential employers than his accent, his green-card marriage has more than its share of baggage, and his fares always mispronounce his name (that's "Ee-kay"). Desperate to keep his head above water in a country that only accepts him as a caricature, Ike decides to travel back to his village in Nigeria, steal his village's ancestral war idol, and sell it to an unscrupulous dealer in tribal antiques. Many novels would merely use this premise as an excuse for madcap postcolonial allegory, but the theft turns out to be the setup for the novel's centerpiece: Ike's return to the village of Utonki, where he finds his family torn between a maniacal Christian pastor and the traditional worshippers of Ngene, the god Ike has resolved to pillage. Neither fable nor melodrama, nor what's crudely niched as "world literature," the novel traces the story of a painstakingly-crafted protagonist and his community caught up in the inescapable allure of success defined in Western terms.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from November 15, 2013
        A Nigerian living in America has a moneymaking scheme--to return to his native village, steal the statue of a war god and sell it to a tony New York dealer who deals in such deities. Ikechukwu Uzondu (or Ike for short) has high expectations. Although he's a cum laude graduate of Amherst with a degree in economics, he's working as a New York cabbie because his accent won't get him in the door at a Wall Street firm. Recently divorced and hounded by creditors, Ike talks to Mark Gruels, owner of a gallery called Foreign Gods, Inc. that traffics in Asian and African statues of gods--and well-heeled collectors are willing to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars for the best specimens. Ike borrows some money from a friend to purchase a ticket back to his home village of Utonki and carefully lays the groundwork for stealing a statue of Ngene, the village war god still worshiped by Ike's uncle Osuakwu. Meanwhile, Ike's mother has come under the spell of Pastor Uka, a stern Protestant who sees Ngene worship as inspired by Satan. Not so coincidentally, the pastor believes that any person returning to the village from America must be rich, so he's looking to Ike to "sow" a considerable sum for a new chapel. Caught between his overly pious and gullible mother on one hand and his "heathen" uncle on the other, Ike eventually steals the statue but still must smuggle it through Nigerian customs, a task made somewhat easier by corrupt customs officials willing to look the other way, but when he returns to New York, he finds the market for African deities has gone colder than he had expected. Ndibe writes of culture clash in a moving way that makes Ike's march toward disaster inexorable and ineffably sad.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2013

        Ikechukwu Uzondu, a Nigerian cabbie working in Manhattan, is addicted to gambling and alcohol, with a hefty dose of self-pity thrown in. Though he holds a degree in economics from Amherst College, we're asked to believe that it's only his accent that keeps him from landing acceptable employment. Ike ignores bills and avoids the plaintive emails from his sister back in the village of Utonki. Since his ill-considered marriage imploded, Ike has been unable to send funds home, leaving him feeling guilty and angry. But he has a scheme. He'll steal the statue of Ngene, a warrior god that has protected his people in Utonki for hundreds of years, and sell it to the officious Mark Gruels, curator of Foreign Gods, Inc., a gallery that caters to wealthy collectors who will pay small fortunes to display their liberal tastes. Not until Ike's week back in Nigeria, where he tussles with corrupt customs officers, battles a hypocritical missionary for his mother's soul, and visits a school friend whose gauche mansion was built with dirty money, does the author's biting humor surface, but it's more bitter than sweet. VERDICT Ndibe (Arrows of Rain) offers a jaundiced view of the immigrant experience in Ike, who won't assimilate to his adopted country but can't return home either. Ike's overwhelming sense of loss and alienation results in a bleak portrait of a broken man. A difficult read indeed.--Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        December 1, 2013
        Ike, a Nigerian immigrant, hasn't been able to make it in America. Driving a taxi, divorced, and broke, he continues to look for an angle and thinks he may have found it in an article about an art gallery that buys icons of foreign deities. He returns to his village in Nigeria in search of art but finds his family caught up on both sides of a religious war between Christianity and native beliefs revolving around the god Ngene. This is a heist story unlike any other, and at the center of it is a web of family obligations, cultural history, and greed. The self-destructive Ike, palpably conflicted and ready to place the blame for his lot anywhere but on himself, is a compelling character who attempts to come home again. Novelist Ndibe unfurls his rich narrative gradually, allowing room for plenty of character interaction while painting a revealing portrait of contemporary Nigeria. With piercing psychological insight and biting commentary on the challenges faced by immigrants, the novel is as full-blooded and fierce as the war deity who drives the story.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

popularity
214
publisher
Soho Press
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