Adiche’s TEDtalk on “The Danger of a Single Story” seems particularly poignant after reading several of her short stories, which work at length to present both the Nigerian story that is hidden and the one that is presented abroad. In her TEDtalk, Adiche warns that a single story of any place and any people will narrow our vision and cause misunderstanding, lack of empathy, distance. She proposes a flourishing of arts and media that overpowers the single story, presenting alternatives, but never undermining the reality of that original story.
In “The Thing Around Your Neck,” Adiche does not shy away from the reality of rape and abuse, an injustice which is so often directly associated with Africa and Africans. In “A Private Experience,” she writes of the religious and ethnic tension that erupts in violent riots in Nigeria—the bloodthirsty and savage African being one of only a few sparce images of Africa that permeate Western culture.
Yet, in bringing these clichéd images to bear in her stories, Adiche strikes a balance that few other writers manage to do: she confronts the single story of Africa, without denying the inequities that make that story popular. Yes, there is rape in “The Thing Around Your Neck,” but there is also something that looks like love, and the contestation between caring about the developing world and knowing it intimately. Yes, there are riots on a macro level in “A Private Experience,” but there is also reconciliation and understanding on a micro level. Adiche strives in her stories, always, for a sense of balance, and equity in the representation of a country where sometimes the stereotypes are true.