Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book recommendation: "Foreign Gods, Inc."

Goodreads Summary:

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.


Foreign Gods, Inc. is a very powerful book, and not one for the light-hearted. It's a story of desperation, greed, religious clashes, false promises, and Western appropriation and commercialization of exotic cultures. It's not an easy book to read, especially because you constantly get the sense that Ike's plan to steal his village's war deity is a mistake. But he's a fully realized character, and the story itself is well-written, with very good use of magical realism.

I acknowledge that this book might not be for everyone, but I still highly recommend it.

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