Never Look an American in the Eye PDF ç Look an

Never Look an American in the Eye PDF ç Look an

Never Look an American in the Eye ✻ [EPUB] ✰ Never Look an American in the Eye By Okey Ndibe ❅ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Okey Ndibe’s funny charming and penetrating memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America where he came to edit the influential—but forever teetering on the verge of insolvency— African Comme an American PDF/EPUB ✓ Okey Ndibe’s funny charming and penetrating memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America where he came to edit the influential—but forever teetering on the verge of insolvency— African Commentary magazine It recounts stories of Ndibe’s relationships with Chinua Achebe Wole Soyinka and Never Look PDF/EPUB ² other literary figures; examines the differences between Nigerian and Look an American in the eBook ☆ American etiuette and politics; recalls an incident of racial profiling just days after he arrived in the US in which he was mistaken for a bank robber; considers American stereotypes about Africa and vice versa; Look an American PDF/EPUB ¼ and juxtaposes African folk tales with Wall Street trickery All these stories and come together in a generous encompassing book about the making of a writer and a new American.


10 thoughts on “Never Look an American in the Eye

  1. J.L. Sutton J.L. Sutton says:

    I thought that after reading Okey Ndibe’s Never Look an American in the Eye A Memoir of Flying Turtles Colonial Ghosts and the Making of a Nigerian American I might have a better idea why I’ve been reading so many great novels by Nigerian writers recently This was an interesting memoir but it didn’t provide those answersWhat most fascinated about this memoir was the trajectory of Ndibe’s debut novel Arrows of Rain which I plan to read from its inception to being noticed by acclaimed Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka How Ndibe came to be a writer in America is all tied up in this novel Given his background it’s not what readers would have expected and it’s not what Ndibe himself expected either His interaction with Chinua Achebe a writer idolized in Nigeria was also interesting and helped Ndibe establish himself as a writer There were other incidents recalled in the memoir how he was mistaken for a bank robber 13 days after arriving in the US his a Nigerian’s view on Americans and their pets and the differences in etiuette between Nigerians and Americans However the best parts even if they didn’t shed light on why there are so many great Nigerian novels had to do with Ndibe becoming a writer 35 stars


  2. Monica Monica says:

    I picked up this book as a task for the Read Harder Challenge 2017 read a book by an immigrant or about the immigrant experience This book is about both and it is very good It also helps to fulfill a personal goal which is to read books by male authors of color This was an unexpected pleasure A view of the immigrant experience through the eyes of a Nigerian born man It is a collection of vignettes that cover how he came to America his experiences therein how Nigerians viewed America and Great Britain some of the cultural differences growing up etc His journey has interesting pathways in the publishing through many acclaimed authors and academics referenced Ndibe is a great storyteller He has a very smart yet easy going manner to his writing that I found appealing Indeed by reading this memoir I have enhanced my vocabulary with the following words synecdoche cynosure imperturbable ablution stentorian impecunious parsimonious abjuration polyglot and vicissitudes Thank goodness I had my kindle to look them up; but his writing did not come off as haughty or disconcerting I was uite comfortable with the way he turns a phraseI found his memoir strongest when he is writing about Nigeria and his own perceptions as an immigrant I loved learning about what his family thought about the worldIn those days Britain was the country everybody called Obodo Oyibo the land of the white people These were the pale people who years ago had journeyed by sea from their far flung land and emerged like ghosts to turn our lives upside down to conuer and rule usHe delightfully and playfully describes what his family told him how to protect himself in America Americans can't stand any stranger looking them in the face They take it as an insult It's something they don't forgive And every American carries a gun If they catch you a stranger looking them in the face they will shootWith regards to his becoming a naturalized American I couldn't help be moved by his thoughts and his family When I called my mother on the phone and told her about being sworn in as an American she paused Her silence was pregnant suggested a momentary struggle with incomprehension Then regaining her voice she asked in an anxious vein Why?This reaction prompted Ndibe to think on what it all means and responds with some of the most poignant passages in the book Why indeed? I had to ask myself What did it mean at bottom that I had become on that May morning an American? Did becoming an American entail an obligation as my mother no doubt feared that I had unbecome what I had been before an Igbo a Nigerian an African? sic Was American citizenship somewhat ersatz nullifying Nigeria and all that it had meant to me? Did it call for amnesia about America's past history of racial discrimination against Africans its unresolved legacy of racism or the turning of a blind eye to the nation's sometimes exasperating foreign policy choices?He finally decides that American citizens also have a role to play in his citizenship Americans have the partial responsibility to bear to determine what value and meaning to assign to me as a brethren of theirs a relative if a distant one In fellow Americans' eyes how American was I deemed to be with my African features my stories my accent and all? How much of my Nigerianness would they permit me to bring along with me and what would they insist that I check at the door? What price in other words would they expect reuire me to pay in order to authenticate my American identity To be fair though he was naturalized in 1997 but this book was published in 2016 I wonder if the current culturalpolitical climate had an effect on how he tells the story But he does not reduce life in Nigeria to nostalgia He doesn’t idealize Nigeria andor its politics either Sadly Nigeria is also a country conceived in hope but nurtured primarily by its gluttonous leaders and their global corporate partners in crime into hopelessness If Nigerian scams had made themselves felt around the world it was largely because the country's leaders had respected no bounds or limits in their egregious grasping in their culture of self aggrandizement and illicit enrichment Yes he's talking about Nigeria not insert first world country hereNear the end of the book Ndibe devotes a long chapter discussing his parents and his father's lifelong friendship and pen pal with a British officer he had met while serving in WWII Here the long held thoughts about the colonial effects on Nigeria and the treatment of Africans worldwide is discussed in detail It's a really beautifully done chapter in my view the best in the book Of his father's perceptions of war As I discussed the was with my father I came close to grasping a sense of the great psychic toll of World War II had taken on the African combatants There they were compelled to fight in a war that was in the end the logical culmination of a species of racism Europeans had planted The same Europeans had used this creed of racial superiority to yoke AfricansBy the end of the book we begin to see that Ndibe internalizes the lessons that his father figures have taught him He feels the need to speak out and against injustice that we die our very humanity slayed whenever we choose to remain silent in the face of tyrannyAgain I wonder about the effects of current events on his memoirThe book is also full of humorous situations such as arriving in New York for the first time without a winter coat He muses Winter I wrote was akin to living inside a refrigerator Or the numerous misunderstandings that take place because his name is Okey pronounced Okay He also muses the lack of knowledge of Africa in America when people constantly conflate the continent with a country or village and where one of his students literally asks him how he came to America when there are no airports in Africa He laughs at the culture clash when he first arrives in America and is invited to lunch but is expected to go Dutch which has no place in Nigerian culture I also enjoyed his folktales and his tales of growing up in NigeriaI had one big issue with the book Ndibe devotes very little time or thought to his immediate family especially his wife Throughout the book Ndibe peppers in the fact that he's married with kids He devotes a chapter to the folktales that he teaches his children but doesn't mention their names The reader doesn't actually get introduced to his wife until the last half of the last chapter in this short book And the half a chapter that is devoted to her feels rushed We also learn his kids' names there but it's an afterthought It's as if they had no impact on his life philosophy outlook or musings what so ever especially when compared to the significant number of pages dedicated to his various male role models Ah the patriarchy It matters not your country of origin I confess that the uotes that stuck out for me are different than the actual tone of the book While the book is serious it is also uite playful positive and for the most part superficial My chosen uotes are about my jaundiced eye that seems to key in on social and cultural things rather than the humorous positive and light feel of the book But honestly this was a great memoir and I look forward to reading from this interesting and talented author 4 StarsEdited to Add Read the kindle edition


  3. Carin Carin says:

    I love memoirs They take me to places and into situations where I would never be they're honest and they encourage empathy I haven't read much in the way of fish out of waterinternational memoirs but I thought this one looked good what a great title and it is a book published by my new company and I will be with the author at NEIBA this fall so I figured I'd better give it a shot And it was uite enjoyableOkey has a wonderful sense of humor I doubt I'd have been able to take half the things that happened to him in such stride and with such goodwill as he does But I'm sure his positive outlook is a big part of what has taken him so far in life For me I particularly liked the first half of the book when he is growing up in Nigeria and his first few weeks in America He comes here in order to start up a magazine for Africans and Nigerians specifically founded by his friend Chinua Achebe The funding is iffy from the very beginning and once again his humor and positivity prove a boon as he negotiates with vendors and pleads with writers with long outstanding invoices Eventually it does fold but by then he's gotten a toe hold in Boston and a friend greases the path for him to enter into a prestigious MFA program right awayI wasn't as crazy about the rest of the book which was episodic and not as linear as the first two thirds I wish he'd told us how he met his wife and kept along with the making of a Nigerian American theme of him coping with homesickness and culture clashes He does tell funny stories about misunderstandings several related to how his first name sounds exactly like Okay and therefore mix ups occur such as when his ride at a conference asks a stranger Are you Okey? and he hears Are you okay? and says yes when he is not Okey Ndibe These were endearing and charming but lost the narrative thread That said he gives a great idea of what it's like to move from Nigeria and land in New York City in January without a coat his family back home found the concept of cold as a weather description so foreign the only way he could explain it was that it felt like living inside a refrigerator And I adored him talking about his first night at a mutual friend's apartment where he used every single soap and shampoo that he found in the guest bathroom repeatedly It felt so gloriously decadent This was an amusing tale that could have been fraught with terror and horror stories he was rounded up by police from a bus station his very first week in America because he fit the description of a bank robber but instead Okey accepts his adopted country with its faults and strengths and cheerfully gathers up funny stories for his next cocktail party and presumably for his next book as well


  4. Roger DeBlanck Roger DeBlanck says:

    Okey Ndibe reveals the depths of his heart in this compulsively engaging memoir Each of his tales offers illuminating wit and insight about acculturation colonialism and the art of writing Eually impressive is the clarity of the rich language he employs to narrate his experiences From his childhood upbringing in Nigeria Ndibe dreamed of the magic and mystery of Britain the USSR and America With the lure of journalism fueling his adventurous dreams he landed a prized interview with the inimitable Chinua Achebe This opportunity later led to an offer from Achebe for him to move to America as editor of the magazine African Commentary Before leaving his uncle gave him advice do not look Americans in the eye For Ndibe he had a notion of his uncle's caveat from having watched American movies and seen how provocation between combatants often led to fatal stare downs Ndibe blends compassion and humility with his trademark warmth and humor in order to reflect upon the rigors of acculturationPerhaps Ndide's most impressive uality is his inspiring reflections on humanity As a self described Nigerian American it is beautiful to hear Ndibe discuss the “fruitful marriage” of his two countries a process that he calls a “gain gain” scenario for him as an American citizen In fact he sees cultural norms as neither better nor worse but rather different in what they represent about human diversity With sage observation regarding the struggles of outsiders he shows how those on the margins of society possess “a richer complex and profoundly humane imagination” Ndibe's memoir is replete with fantastic stories about his experiences in America including the time he was mistaken as a suspect in a bank robbery or the laughable incidents of his first name causing confusion with the expression of “okay” Ndibe's tales also reflect perseverance in the face of watching African Commentary wither in demise due to financial instability This is also a memoir in which Ndibe offers his gratitude to those who guided and encouraged his path to writing It is a joy to read about the reverence he holds for others who gave him the confidence to pursue his own writing endeavorsNdibe also relays the wondrous anecdote about his grandfather returning from the dead and the subseuent unburying and restoring of his spirit that had to transpire This leads to an even beautiful story about Ndibe remembering his own father and wanting to honor his service as a veteran of the Second World War The retelling of his father's incredible lifelong friendship with Father John Tucker an English officer takes Ndibe on a journey where he connects with Tucker in hopes of better knowing his father Ever the conscientious mind Ndibe's memoir serves as activism too His command of the politics surrounding Africa brings him to the duty of confronting colonial exploitation misconception and ignorance He outlines the challenges Nigeria has endured in its uest to embrace democracy and how he's always admired the fearlessness of Wole Soyinka to stand up to tyranny He learned from Soyinka that choosing to remain silent is akin to death What Ndibe leaves me with most is his humanity his ability to overcome struggle and hardship with the resilience of hope and a smile to go along His narrative will keep your heart pounding but over he achieves the most important facet of humanism bringing light to darkness and finding a way to alleviate suffering The range and craftsmanship of this memoir is impressive but the size of his heart is even soMy review of Ndibe's novel Foreign Gods Inc


  5. Unarine Ramaru Unarine Ramaru says:

    The book began with outstanding storytelling detailing Prof Okey Ndibe's Nigerian upbringing and culture shock through his immigration experience in America Very interesting story of how he became a writer and what brought him to his adopted land Thoroughly enjoyed tales of his father's influence on him and his first humorous lunch experience in America As the jovial tone is taking root it seems the Professor lost control of the book It is expected for memoirs to be fractured in structure it becomes another thing when the book begins in a linaer manner then folds into a meandering structure At some point there is a wife and kids I thought of hunting prof and ask him where the family came from I had to read all the way to the final chapter to get an oh by the way mention of how he proposed Which still left me wondering who is that woman? Although it became a bit of a disjointed read overall the conversation like style of each individual chapter kept my attention throughout A short read that could've been even shorter if words and sentences like cynosure and the doleful sign was writ even large for me A scaled down 35 to 35 star rating from me I recommend you listen to the book rather then read it The styling allows for enjoyable drive time tales I wish someone gave me that advice before I picked it up


  6. Penny Penny says:

    A lazy assemblage of essays clearly written for other publications and haphazardly jumbled into one bound volume Smacks of canned stale anecdotes pulled out for radio interviews Pretentious use of the English language I'm glad I didn't buy it


  7. Carrie Ann Carrie Ann says:

    A delightful book with charming pros and witty anecdotes about living in America for the first time from a Nigerian's perspective I definitely enjoyed learning about another culture and how silly some of the things are about Americans from a different perspective It's a memoir so it's a fractured in structure and not in chronological order Throughout the second half I kept wondering why he didn't mention about his wife or kids and at the very end he reveals that he was somewhat of a playboy before getting married; it's as if he did not trust us to accept his character fully until he was able to firmly establish all the good bits first Which as I have learned is a legitimate fear of foreigners entering into a new culture so I don't blame him but it was a bit jarring because it seemed to be an admission out of nowhere at the very end and felt like a rather strange note to end on I guess it's important to me how the author ends and what final thoughts I'm left with and I was left a little unsettled


  8. Rasheedat Rasheedat says:

    Really enjoyed reading this book Gave a lot of insight into Biafra war world war 2 colonisation of Nigeria by the Brits love immigration and many Definitely recommend


  9. Onome Onome says:

    Many Africans desire to see the life beyond the shores of their continent For Ndibe this desire lurked deep inside him as a child growing up in the Eastern part of Nigeria The mystery that the White man posed to him triggered an unending desire to travel to America and the United Kingdom According to him “For us the British Isles summed up that other world that lay well beyond the borders of our unsettled lives It was the world of white magic white mystery and white power” Okey Ndibe was born in May 1960 just when Nigeria was nearing the threshold of Independence He met the white man in books he read at school which according to him “gave credit to the British for discovering every significant geographic landmark in Nigeria Africa and the rest of the world” The world he was used or introduced to was one that defined Africa in Western contexts It was the reason for his deep fascination and desire to one day go outside the shores of the countryOkey Ndibe’s memoir chronicles his journey as a young boy in Nigeria and his very sudden yet exciting trip to the United States This opportunity was as a result of his encounter with the famous Chinua Achebe Okey Ndibe had read Chinua Achebe’s books and considered him one of Africa’s finest writers The first time Okey Ndibe saw Chinua Achebe was when the man drove past where he sat with his friends and they waved to him excitedly And then another time Ndibe met him at a gas station and exchanged pleasantries with the writer Then the meeting that defined all meetings was when Okey Ndibe went visiting a friend who told him that Chinua Achebe was her uncle She took him to see him and Ndibe got Achebe to commit to an interview At this time Ndibe was working with African Concord Ndibe does not spare any details as he chronicles all that happened in that meeting But important is the result of that interview Achebe offered Okey Ndibe an employment to be a founding Editor of an international magazine in the US This was beginning of Okey Ndibe’s many hilarious adventuresNdibe’s welcome in the US was not a warm one because he was greeted by a brutal cold weather and he was not in any way dressed or prepared for However before he left for the US he had received all sorts of counsel but most important is the one that he received from his uncle which became the title of the book According to his uncle Americans abhorred anyone who looked them in the eye as it is seen as a form of disrespect Also his uncle said that every American carried a gun Ndibe’s life in the US was not a smooth one but with every up and down experienced it was a story that was waiting to unfold While his uncle did hold some very funny beliefs of America Ndibe discovered the funny beliefs Americans also had about AfricaThere are other stories to recount but Ndibe points out areas that can be culturally shocking for a Nigerian and how he was able to navigate through these experiences One that isn’t so surprising is the shallow understanding many Americans have of Africa For many it is just a place where animals live and people there have no access to civilisation It is notions like this that make you grateful for the likes of Okey Ndibe who points out this ignorance and corrects them through the pens they wieldAnother experience worth mentioning is in the chapter ‘Nigerian Going Dutch’ Okey was asked to lunch by a lady Karen who he had decided to help find her Nigerian father After the meal at the restaurant Okey Ndibe did not know that he had to pay for his own food He thought like every Nigerian that if someone asks you to lunch the person was going to pay Karen would pay but unfortunately he found out that wasn’t the American way He had to tell Karen he forgot his wallet in Nnaji’s office and asked her to loan him the money As much as it was another orientation process for Ndibe it was an orientation too for Karen because she also learnt how it is done in NigeriaOkey also discovers how Americans hold their pet in high regards with tremendous amount of care much to his own amusement he was shocked when someone says that she wasn’t planning on having children but the animals cats and dogs she has will suffice As an African reading that you might cringe a little because in Africa having children is seen as a necessity These are some stories that give you a glimpse of what life can be in America and how unnerving they can be for a NigerianHe also recounted his experience with a police officer who mistook him to be a bank robber just because he fitted the description of a man who robbed a bank The incidence though shocking to Ndibe revealed the disparity between the Nigerian police and the American police He feared that the policeman being a policeman would cause him harm His own awareness of how Nigerians had experiences of police brutality made him scared However he followed whatever orders he was given keeping his fears within himself The policeman even responded after he was cleared of any wrongdoing “Thanks for being a gentleman” Though the crux of this story is not about disparities of law enforcement agencies of Nigeria and America but how this experience was an initiation into the American society It became an educative experience for the author and a story he would tell for a long timeNdibe also shares what inspires his writings and even how this career path as a writer began Okey Ndibe does not hide his humorous tone but underlying it are lessons any upcoming writer should learn Okey Ndibe’s love for books and reading helped his writing and also with the needed guidance of prolific writers he was able to produce his first novel Ndibe further recounts his journey in writing but pauses to introduce us to his father’s friend TuckerNdibe interaction with his father’s English friend Tucker symbolically speaks to shared human experiences that pays no regards to race ethnicity or beliefs Tucker and Christopher Ndibe’s father had fought alongside each other during the world war Despite the distance between them they still wrote letters to each other The relationship was “a friendship that breached several barriers there was also the taboo of race embodying all historical distrust between white and black There was the line of religious affiliation Tucker an Anglican prelate my father a Catholic” However for years these two men had a beautiful friendship in spite of divides More symbolic is how this friendship shows that it is possible to be from both worlds and live peaceably Even when a person embodies both worlds as a Nigerian American both cultures can find a way to co exist Ndibe can be Nigerian as Nigerian can be and also be American as American can beThe book is a uick read As a memoir Okey Ndibe speaks of his development and transition as a writer than he speaks of his transition and development as a person Sometimes he writes about others than he writes about himself but in the end sheds light on how all his encounters impacts him albeit vaguely He does not shy away from discussing the problems in the Nigerian political space Though he does this towards the end he uses this to speak to the need for writers to be the voice that people need to hear and instigate the much needed change “‘A story that must be told never forgives silence’Those who shut their eyes in order to see no evil to denounce none those who plug their ears and gag their mouths should be under no illusion They may delude themselves but they cannot enter a plea of innocence in history’s great carnages its galleries of gore and horrors”It is a good read and can be recommended to anyone who seeks to understand the intricacies of writing immigration and post colonial discourse


  10. Jenni V. Jenni V. says:

    I wasn't sure how to rate this one because I really liked the book but after hearing him speak at the Iowa City Book Festival where he read a few of these chapters aloud and signed my book just reading the rest didn't feel like enough This would be great to listen to as an audiobookIt was interesting because he made a note in the book that as time has passed since he was stopped by the police because they were looking for a bank robber and he fit the description basically a black man the tone in how he has told the story changed from dread to humor He told that story in the reading I attended and it's true that he made it light and humorous as he did other events that must have been very difficult at the time Keeping it light doesn't mean he glosses over the struggles It's the talent of a true writer to make you think without beating you over the head with the lessons heshe wants you learn and Okey is a phenomenal writer A Few uotes from the BookThe books and journalism I consumed fueled my desire to write I needed writing badly needed it to save me from a career in the corporate world that my studies would sentence me to Bohemian at heart and by habit I dreaded the prospect of a regular eight to five jobI sought to draw attention both to the rampancy of power abuse and to the repercussions of silence Those who shut their eyes in order to see no evil to denounce none those who plug their ears and gag their mouths should be under no illusion They may delude themselves but they cannot enter a plea of innocence in history's great carnages its galleries of gore and horrorsFind all my reviews at


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10 thoughts on “Never Look an American in the Eye

  1. J.L. Sutton J.L. Sutton says:

    I thought that after reading Okey Ndibe’s Never Look an American in the Eye A Memoir of Flying Turtles Colonial Ghosts and the Making of a Nigerian American I might have a better idea why I’ve been reading so many great novels by Nigerian writers recently This was an interesting memoir but it didn’t provide those answersWhat most fascinated about this memoir was the trajectory of Ndibe’s debut novel Arrows of Rain which I plan to read from its inception to being noticed by acclaimed Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka How Ndibe came to be a writer in America is all tied up in this novel Given his background it’s not what readers would have expected and it’s not what Ndibe himself expected either His interaction with Chinua Achebe a writer idolized in Nigeria was also interesting and helped Ndibe establish himself as a writer There were other incidents recalled in the memoir how he was mistaken for a bank robber 13 days after arriving in the US his a Nigerian’s view on Americans and their pets and the differences in etiuette between Nigerians and Americans However the best parts even if they didn’t shed light on why there are so many great Nigerian novels had to do with Ndibe becoming a writer 35 stars

  2. Monica Monica says:

    I picked up this book as a task for the Read Harder Challenge 2017 read a book by an immigrant or about the immigrant experience This book is about both and it is very good It also helps to fulfill a personal goal which is to read books by male authors of color This was an unexpected pleasure A view of the immigrant experience through the eyes of a Nigerian born man It is a collection of vignettes that cover how he came to America his experiences therein how Nigerians viewed America and Great Britain some of the cultural differences growing up etc His journey has interesting pathways in the publishing through many acclaimed authors and academics referenced Ndibe is a great storyteller He has a very smart yet easy going manner to his writing that I found appealing Indeed by reading this memoir I have enhanced my vocabulary with the following words synecdoche cynosure imperturbable ablution stentorian impecunious parsimonious abjuration polyglot and vicissitudes Thank goodness I had my kindle to look them up; but his writing did not come off as haughty or disconcerting I was uite comfortable with the way he turns a phraseI found his memoir strongest when he is writing about Nigeria and his own perceptions as an immigrant I loved learning about what his family thought about the worldIn those days Britain was the country everybody called Obodo Oyibo the land of the white people These were the pale people who years ago had journeyed by sea from their far flung land and emerged like ghosts to turn our lives upside down to conuer and rule usHe delightfully and playfully describes what his family told him how to protect himself in America Americans can't stand any stranger looking them in the face They take it as an insult It's something they don't forgive And every American carries a gun If they catch you a stranger looking them in the face they will shootWith regards to his becoming a naturalized American I couldn't help be moved by his thoughts and his family When I called my mother on the phone and told her about being sworn in as an American she paused Her silence was pregnant suggested a momentary struggle with incomprehension Then regaining her voice she asked in an anxious vein Why?This reaction prompted Ndibe to think on what it all means and responds with some of the most poignant passages in the book Why indeed? I had to ask myself What did it mean at bottom that I had become on that May morning an American? Did becoming an American entail an obligation as my mother no doubt feared that I had unbecome what I had been before an Igbo a Nigerian an African? sic Was American citizenship somewhat ersatz nullifying Nigeria and all that it had meant to me? Did it call for amnesia about America's past history of racial discrimination against Africans its unresolved legacy of racism or the turning of a blind eye to the nation's sometimes exasperating foreign policy choices?He finally decides that American citizens also have a role to play in his citizenship Americans have the partial responsibility to bear to determine what value and meaning to assign to me as a brethren of theirs a relative if a distant one In fellow Americans' eyes how American was I deemed to be with my African features my stories my accent and all? How much of my Nigerianness would they permit me to bring along with me and what would they insist that I check at the door? What price in other words would they expect reuire me to pay in order to authenticate my American identity To be fair though he was naturalized in 1997 but this book was published in 2016 I wonder if the current culturalpolitical climate had an effect on how he tells the story But he does not reduce life in Nigeria to nostalgia He doesn’t idealize Nigeria andor its politics either Sadly Nigeria is also a country conceived in hope but nurtured primarily by its gluttonous leaders and their global corporate partners in crime into hopelessness If Nigerian scams had made themselves felt around the world it was largely because the country's leaders had respected no bounds or limits in their egregious grasping in their culture of self aggrandizement and illicit enrichment Yes he's talking about Nigeria not insert first world country hereNear the end of the book Ndibe devotes a long chapter discussing his parents and his father's lifelong friendship and pen pal with a British officer he had met while serving in WWII Here the long held thoughts about the colonial effects on Nigeria and the treatment of Africans worldwide is discussed in detail It's a really beautifully done chapter in my view the best in the book Of his father's perceptions of war As I discussed the was with my father I came close to grasping a sense of the great psychic toll of World War II had taken on the African combatants There they were compelled to fight in a war that was in the end the logical culmination of a species of racism Europeans had planted The same Europeans had used this creed of racial superiority to yoke AfricansBy the end of the book we begin to see that Ndibe internalizes the lessons that his father figures have taught him He feels the need to speak out and against injustice that we die our very humanity slayed whenever we choose to remain silent in the face of tyrannyAgain I wonder about the effects of current events on his memoirThe book is also full of humorous situations such as arriving in New York for the first time without a winter coat He muses Winter I wrote was akin to living inside a refrigerator Or the numerous misunderstandings that take place because his name is Okey pronounced Okay He also muses the lack of knowledge of Africa in America when people constantly conflate the continent with a country or village and where one of his students literally asks him how he came to America when there are no airports in Africa He laughs at the culture clash when he first arrives in America and is invited to lunch but is expected to go Dutch which has no place in Nigerian culture I also enjoyed his folktales and his tales of growing up in NigeriaI had one big issue with the book Ndibe devotes very little time or thought to his immediate family especially his wife Throughout the book Ndibe peppers in the fact that he's married with kids He devotes a chapter to the folktales that he teaches his children but doesn't mention their names The reader doesn't actually get introduced to his wife until the last half of the last chapter in this short book And the half a chapter that is devoted to her feels rushed We also learn his kids' names there but it's an afterthought It's as if they had no impact on his life philosophy outlook or musings what so ever especially when compared to the significant number of pages dedicated to his various male role models Ah the patriarchy It matters not your country of origin I confess that the uotes that stuck out for me are different than the actual tone of the book While the book is serious it is also uite playful positive and for the most part superficial My chosen uotes are about my jaundiced eye that seems to key in on social and cultural things rather than the humorous positive and light feel of the book But honestly this was a great memoir and I look forward to reading from this interesting and talented author 4 StarsEdited to Add Read the kindle edition

  3. Carin Carin says:

    I love memoirs They take me to places and into situations where I would never be they're honest and they encourage empathy I haven't read much in the way of fish out of waterinternational memoirs but I thought this one looked good what a great title and it is a book published by my new company and I will be with the author at NEIBA this fall so I figured I'd better give it a shot And it was uite enjoyableOkey has a wonderful sense of humor I doubt I'd have been able to take half the things that happened to him in such stride and with such goodwill as he does But I'm sure his positive outlook is a big part of what has taken him so far in life For me I particularly liked the first half of the book when he is growing up in Nigeria and his first few weeks in America He comes here in order to start up a magazine for Africans and Nigerians specifically founded by his friend Chinua Achebe The funding is iffy from the very beginning and once again his humor and positivity prove a boon as he negotiates with vendors and pleads with writers with long outstanding invoices Eventually it does fold but by then he's gotten a toe hold in Boston and a friend greases the path for him to enter into a prestigious MFA program right awayI wasn't as crazy about the rest of the book which was episodic and not as linear as the first two thirds I wish he'd told us how he met his wife and kept along with the making of a Nigerian American theme of him coping with homesickness and culture clashes He does tell funny stories about misunderstandings several related to how his first name sounds exactly like Okay and therefore mix ups occur such as when his ride at a conference asks a stranger Are you Okey? and he hears Are you okay? and says yes when he is not Okey Ndibe These were endearing and charming but lost the narrative thread That said he gives a great idea of what it's like to move from Nigeria and land in New York City in January without a coat his family back home found the concept of cold as a weather description so foreign the only way he could explain it was that it felt like living inside a refrigerator And I adored him talking about his first night at a mutual friend's apartment where he used every single soap and shampoo that he found in the guest bathroom repeatedly It felt so gloriously decadent This was an amusing tale that could have been fraught with terror and horror stories he was rounded up by police from a bus station his very first week in America because he fit the description of a bank robber but instead Okey accepts his adopted country with its faults and strengths and cheerfully gathers up funny stories for his next cocktail party and presumably for his next book as well

  4. Roger DeBlanck Roger DeBlanck says:

    Okey Ndibe reveals the depths of his heart in this compulsively engaging memoir Each of his tales offers illuminating wit and insight about acculturation colonialism and the art of writing Eually impressive is the clarity of the rich language he employs to narrate his experiences From his childhood upbringing in Nigeria Ndibe dreamed of the magic and mystery of Britain the USSR and America With the lure of journalism fueling his adventurous dreams he landed a prized interview with the inimitable Chinua Achebe This opportunity later led to an offer from Achebe for him to move to America as editor of the magazine African Commentary Before leaving his uncle gave him advice do not look Americans in the eye For Ndibe he had a notion of his uncle's caveat from having watched American movies and seen how provocation between combatants often led to fatal stare downs Ndibe blends compassion and humility with his trademark warmth and humor in order to reflect upon the rigors of acculturationPerhaps Ndide's most impressive uality is his inspiring reflections on humanity As a self described Nigerian American it is beautiful to hear Ndibe discuss the “fruitful marriage” of his two countries a process that he calls a “gain gain” scenario for him as an American citizen In fact he sees cultural norms as neither better nor worse but rather different in what they represent about human diversity With sage observation regarding the struggles of outsiders he shows how those on the margins of society possess “a richer complex and profoundly humane imagination” Ndibe's memoir is replete with fantastic stories about his experiences in America including the time he was mistaken as a suspect in a bank robbery or the laughable incidents of his first name causing confusion with the expression of “okay” Ndibe's tales also reflect perseverance in the face of watching African Commentary wither in demise due to financial instability This is also a memoir in which Ndibe offers his gratitude to those who guided and encouraged his path to writing It is a joy to read about the reverence he holds for others who gave him the confidence to pursue his own writing endeavorsNdibe also relays the wondrous anecdote about his grandfather returning from the dead and the subseuent unburying and restoring of his spirit that had to transpire This leads to an even beautiful story about Ndibe remembering his own father and wanting to honor his service as a veteran of the Second World War The retelling of his father's incredible lifelong friendship with Father John Tucker an English officer takes Ndibe on a journey where he connects with Tucker in hopes of better knowing his father Ever the conscientious mind Ndibe's memoir serves as activism too His command of the politics surrounding Africa brings him to the duty of confronting colonial exploitation misconception and ignorance He outlines the challenges Nigeria has endured in its uest to embrace democracy and how he's always admired the fearlessness of Wole Soyinka to stand up to tyranny He learned from Soyinka that choosing to remain silent is akin to death What Ndibe leaves me with most is his humanity his ability to overcome struggle and hardship with the resilience of hope and a smile to go along His narrative will keep your heart pounding but over he achieves the most important facet of humanism bringing light to darkness and finding a way to alleviate suffering The range and craftsmanship of this memoir is impressive but the size of his heart is even soMy review of Ndibe's novel Foreign Gods Inc

  5. Unarine Ramaru Unarine Ramaru says:

    The book began with outstanding storytelling detailing Prof Okey Ndibe's Nigerian upbringing and culture shock through his immigration experience in America Very interesting story of how he became a writer and what brought him to his adopted land Thoroughly enjoyed tales of his father's influence on him and his first humorous lunch experience in America As the jovial tone is taking root it seems the Professor lost control of the book It is expected for memoirs to be fractured in structure it becomes another thing when the book begins in a linaer manner then folds into a meandering structure At some point there is a wife and kids I thought of hunting prof and ask him where the family came from I had to read all the way to the final chapter to get an oh by the way mention of how he proposed Which still left me wondering who is that woman? Although it became a bit of a disjointed read overall the conversation like style of each individual chapter kept my attention throughout A short read that could've been even shorter if words and sentences like cynosure and the doleful sign was writ even large for me A scaled down 35 to 35 star rating from me I recommend you listen to the book rather then read it The styling allows for enjoyable drive time tales I wish someone gave me that advice before I picked it up

  6. Penny Penny says:

    A lazy assemblage of essays clearly written for other publications and haphazardly jumbled into one bound volume Smacks of canned stale anecdotes pulled out for radio interviews Pretentious use of the English language I'm glad I didn't buy it

  7. Carrie Ann Carrie Ann says:

    A delightful book with charming pros and witty anecdotes about living in America for the first time from a Nigerian's perspective I definitely enjoyed learning about another culture and how silly some of the things are about Americans from a different perspective It's a memoir so it's a fractured in structure and not in chronological order Throughout the second half I kept wondering why he didn't mention about his wife or kids and at the very end he reveals that he was somewhat of a playboy before getting married; it's as if he did not trust us to accept his character fully until he was able to firmly establish all the good bits first Which as I have learned is a legitimate fear of foreigners entering into a new culture so I don't blame him but it was a bit jarring because it seemed to be an admission out of nowhere at the very end and felt like a rather strange note to end on I guess it's important to me how the author ends and what final thoughts I'm left with and I was left a little unsettled

  8. Rasheedat Rasheedat says:

    Really enjoyed reading this book Gave a lot of insight into Biafra war world war 2 colonisation of Nigeria by the Brits love immigration and many Definitely recommend

  9. Onome Onome says:

    Many Africans desire to see the life beyond the shores of their continent For Ndibe this desire lurked deep inside him as a child growing up in the Eastern part of Nigeria The mystery that the White man posed to him triggered an unending desire to travel to America and the United Kingdom According to him “For us the British Isles summed up that other world that lay well beyond the borders of our unsettled lives It was the world of white magic white mystery and white power” Okey Ndibe was born in May 1960 just when Nigeria was nearing the threshold of Independence He met the white man in books he read at school which according to him “gave credit to the British for discovering every significant geographic landmark in Nigeria Africa and the rest of the world” The world he was used or introduced to was one that defined Africa in Western contexts It was the reason for his deep fascination and desire to one day go outside the shores of the countryOkey Ndibe’s memoir chronicles his journey as a young boy in Nigeria and his very sudden yet exciting trip to the United States This opportunity was as a result of his encounter with the famous Chinua Achebe Okey Ndibe had read Chinua Achebe’s books and considered him one of Africa’s finest writers The first time Okey Ndibe saw Chinua Achebe was when the man drove past where he sat with his friends and they waved to him excitedly And then another time Ndibe met him at a gas station and exchanged pleasantries with the writer Then the meeting that defined all meetings was when Okey Ndibe went visiting a friend who told him that Chinua Achebe was her uncle She took him to see him and Ndibe got Achebe to commit to an interview At this time Ndibe was working with African Concord Ndibe does not spare any details as he chronicles all that happened in that meeting But important is the result of that interview Achebe offered Okey Ndibe an employment to be a founding Editor of an international magazine in the US This was beginning of Okey Ndibe’s many hilarious adventuresNdibe’s welcome in the US was not a warm one because he was greeted by a brutal cold weather and he was not in any way dressed or prepared for However before he left for the US he had received all sorts of counsel but most important is the one that he received from his uncle which became the title of the book According to his uncle Americans abhorred anyone who looked them in the eye as it is seen as a form of disrespect Also his uncle said that every American carried a gun Ndibe’s life in the US was not a smooth one but with every up and down experienced it was a story that was waiting to unfold While his uncle did hold some very funny beliefs of America Ndibe discovered the funny beliefs Americans also had about AfricaThere are other stories to recount but Ndibe points out areas that can be culturally shocking for a Nigerian and how he was able to navigate through these experiences One that isn’t so surprising is the shallow understanding many Americans have of Africa For many it is just a place where animals live and people there have no access to civilisation It is notions like this that make you grateful for the likes of Okey Ndibe who points out this ignorance and corrects them through the pens they wieldAnother experience worth mentioning is in the chapter ‘Nigerian Going Dutch’ Okey was asked to lunch by a lady Karen who he had decided to help find her Nigerian father After the meal at the restaurant Okey Ndibe did not know that he had to pay for his own food He thought like every Nigerian that if someone asks you to lunch the person was going to pay Karen would pay but unfortunately he found out that wasn’t the American way He had to tell Karen he forgot his wallet in Nnaji’s office and asked her to loan him the money As much as it was another orientation process for Ndibe it was an orientation too for Karen because she also learnt how it is done in NigeriaOkey also discovers how Americans hold their pet in high regards with tremendous amount of care much to his own amusement he was shocked when someone says that she wasn’t planning on having children but the animals cats and dogs she has will suffice As an African reading that you might cringe a little because in Africa having children is seen as a necessity These are some stories that give you a glimpse of what life can be in America and how unnerving they can be for a NigerianHe also recounted his experience with a police officer who mistook him to be a bank robber just because he fitted the description of a man who robbed a bank The incidence though shocking to Ndibe revealed the disparity between the Nigerian police and the American police He feared that the policeman being a policeman would cause him harm His own awareness of how Nigerians had experiences of police brutality made him scared However he followed whatever orders he was given keeping his fears within himself The policeman even responded after he was cleared of any wrongdoing “Thanks for being a gentleman” Though the crux of this story is not about disparities of law enforcement agencies of Nigeria and America but how this experience was an initiation into the American society It became an educative experience for the author and a story he would tell for a long timeNdibe also shares what inspires his writings and even how this career path as a writer began Okey Ndibe does not hide his humorous tone but underlying it are lessons any upcoming writer should learn Okey Ndibe’s love for books and reading helped his writing and also with the needed guidance of prolific writers he was able to produce his first novel Ndibe further recounts his journey in writing but pauses to introduce us to his father’s friend TuckerNdibe interaction with his father’s English friend Tucker symbolically speaks to shared human experiences that pays no regards to race ethnicity or beliefs Tucker and Christopher Ndibe’s father had fought alongside each other during the world war Despite the distance between them they still wrote letters to each other The relationship was “a friendship that breached several barriers there was also the taboo of race embodying all historical distrust between white and black There was the line of religious affiliation Tucker an Anglican prelate my father a Catholic” However for years these two men had a beautiful friendship in spite of divides More symbolic is how this friendship shows that it is possible to be from both worlds and live peaceably Even when a person embodies both worlds as a Nigerian American both cultures can find a way to co exist Ndibe can be Nigerian as Nigerian can be and also be American as American can beThe book is a uick read As a memoir Okey Ndibe speaks of his development and transition as a writer than he speaks of his transition and development as a person Sometimes he writes about others than he writes about himself but in the end sheds light on how all his encounters impacts him albeit vaguely He does not shy away from discussing the problems in the Nigerian political space Though he does this towards the end he uses this to speak to the need for writers to be the voice that people need to hear and instigate the much needed change “‘A story that must be told never forgives silence’Those who shut their eyes in order to see no evil to denounce none those who plug their ears and gag their mouths should be under no illusion They may delude themselves but they cannot enter a plea of innocence in history’s great carnages its galleries of gore and horrors”It is a good read and can be recommended to anyone who seeks to understand the intricacies of writing immigration and post colonial discourse

  10. Jenni V. Jenni V. says:

    I wasn't sure how to rate this one because I really liked the book but after hearing him speak at the Iowa City Book Festival where he read a few of these chapters aloud and signed my book just reading the rest didn't feel like enough This would be great to listen to as an audiobookIt was interesting because he made a note in the book that as time has passed since he was stopped by the police because they were looking for a bank robber and he fit the description basically a black man the tone in how he has told the story changed from dread to humor He told that story in the reading I attended and it's true that he made it light and humorous as he did other events that must have been very difficult at the time Keeping it light doesn't mean he glosses over the struggles It's the talent of a true writer to make you think without beating you over the head with the lessons heshe wants you learn and Okey is a phenomenal writer A Few uotes from the BookThe books and journalism I consumed fueled my desire to write I needed writing badly needed it to save me from a career in the corporate world that my studies would sentence me to Bohemian at heart and by habit I dreaded the prospect of a regular eight to five jobI sought to draw attention both to the rampancy of power abuse and to the repercussions of silence Those who shut their eyes in order to see no evil to denounce none those who plug their ears and gag their mouths should be under no illusion They may delude themselves but they cannot enter a plea of innocence in history's great carnages its galleries of gore and horrorsFind all my reviews at

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