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A diverse and entertaining set of memories on how a Nigerian man became an American.

A Nigerian man explains how and why he moved to the United States.

Growing up in Nigeria, one of Ndibe's (Arrows of Rain, 2015, etc.) greatest dreams was to live in America. So when Chinua Achebe offered him the job of founding editor of African Commentary magazine, a position based in the U.S., Ndibe didn't hesitate to accept. With impressive storytelling skills, the author explores his Nigerian childhood, his dreams and fears, and his arrival in the U.S. during a typical New York City winter, which he “strained to find the language” to describe, eventually settling on “akin to living inside a refrigerator.” Initially, the author focuses on his first few weeks in America and then expands to encompass the many years he's lived in the country. He discusses his introduction to American culture and the variety of differences between Nigerian and American society, including how people pay for meals and when they can and cannot visit. He writes about a racial profiling episode that happened between him and a NYPD officer shortly after his arrival in the country (the officer claimed he fit the description of a bank robber), the death of his father and the British man who had been his father's lifetime friend, the day he became a U.S. citizen, and the details of how he met his wife. Ndibe also integrates amusing moments—e.g., the mix-up that his first name, Okey, caused—within his reflections on becoming a writer and attending a master’s of fine arts program where he met and worked with a number of distinguished authors. On the whole, these intriguing essays give readers a unique perspective on the U.S. and provide an inside look into Nigerian culture and traditions.

A diverse and entertaining set of memories on how a Nigerian man became an American.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61695-760-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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