Weekend reading: ‘Foreign Gods, Inc.’
If you’ve ever sat in the back of a cab silently – or not so silently – wondering where your cab driver is from and what his life is like (and really hasn’t everyone?) then you will be captivated by Nigerian writer Okey Ndibe’s new novel “Foreign Gods, Inc.” The book follows Ike, a Nigerian-born, New York City resident who just keeps getting knocked down by life’s hits.
A brilliant guy, Ike graduated at the top of his class at Amherst College, but was never been able to land a decent job because he is preemptively judged by his Nigerian accent. Now, 10 years after graduating, he finds himself living a lonely life as a cab driver going through a divorce. Feeling down and out, he starts drinking too much and gambling what little money he has away.
Then, he sees an article in New York magazine about an art dealer who sells religious pieces of art; no not painting of Jesus at the Last Supper, but actual sculptures that people worship. Ike thinks of Ngene, the god of his Nigerian hometown, and gets it in his mind that if he is able to sell Ngene then he will be rich. He hatches a plan to head back to his home country to steal the deity, but of course runs into complications.
A classic anti-hero, you won’t help but to sympathize with Ike and keep reading to find out his fate.
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