FOREIGN GODS, INC. by Okey Ndibe

Book Quote:

“All he knew with sure was that his thoughts now converged around the idea of flying home to Nigeria to spirit away Ngene and sell the deity to Mr. Gruels. At first, the thought had scandalized him. He had tried to rebuke himself; he upbraided himself in all the stern silent languages he knew. In spite of his effort, he had found the temptation impossible to shake off. His waking hours were now often preoccupied with speculating what price the deity might command? He peered into what he always took to be his soul. He reminded himself how unlike him it was to peel away at all considerations until all that remained was the vulgar question of dollars and cents. Still his resolve was unyielding.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (FEB 15, 2014)

Foreign Gods Inc. by Ndibe is one of those rare books that has you laughing and crying at different intervals. It is well-written, excellently characterized and the story line is near perfect. I enjoyed this reading experience immensely.

Ike (pronounced E-Kay) is a Nigerian in America, a graduate of the elite Amherst College who has been driving cab in New York City for thirteen years because he can not get a job despite graduating cum laude and majoring in economics. He is told at job interview after job interview that his accent is too thick and he is not a good candidate for a public relations or financial position. He is at his wits end. His bills are overdue, his ex has taken him for everything he has, and he is now up to his ears in gambling debts.

As the book opens, Ike has the idea of going to a gallery called Foreign Gods Inc. and trying to sell them a statue, one that resides in his home village of Utonki. The statue is of the God of War, Ngene, a powerful god of war that served his people for centuries. At this time, Ike’s uncle is its protector. Ike believes that Negene is very powerful and will get him hundreds of thousands of dollars and take him out of debt. His mother has been begging him for money as has his sister. He has not sent them any support money for years.

Ike talks to Mark Gruel, the owner of Foreign Gods Inc. who tells Ike that he must bring the statue to him before he can tell how much it is worth. Ike decides to go back to his hometown in Nigeria and steal the statue and bring it back to New York. It is in Nigeria that a comedy of errors occurs and the reader is given the amazing history of the old and new Nigeria, the collision of the christian beliefs with the traditional religion. Ike is caught in the middle and ultimately we are left to wonder “Did he have the guts to snatch the statue of Ngene and sell it?”

The story unwinds slowly and resolutely, leading the reader from New York to Nigeria and back to New York again. We follow Ike with all of his conflicting beliefs and moral ambiguity. He is a complex and intelligent man trying to make a life for himself and for his family, while at the same time that life may end up destroying the very family he is trying to save.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 18 readers
PUBLISHER: Soho Press (January 14, 2014)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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February 19, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Debut Novel, Humorous, New York City, World Lit

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