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Foreign Gods, Inc. is 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. 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.
Author Okey Ndibe 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.
"Razor-sharp... Mr. Ndibe invests his story with enough dark comedy to make Ngene an odoriferous presence in his own right, and certainly not the kind of polite exotic rarity that art collectors are used to... In Mr. Ndibe’s agile hands, he’s both a source of satire and an embodiment of pure terror."
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Okey Ndibe's novel is dramatic and wonderfully detailed, and his prose is absolutely beautiful — he's a deeply generous writer with an excellent ear for dialogue."
—Michael Schaub, NPR
"A story of sweeping cultural insight and absurd comedy...rendered with a stoic power that moves the reader more than histrionics possibly could."
—The Washington Post
"Captures the character of the intelligent yet deluded Ike, whose trip to Nigeria puts him face to face with the yawning need of nearly everyone he knows. And where there isn't need, there is greed."
—The Chicago Tribune
“We clearly have a fresh talent at work here. It is quite a while since I sensed creative promise on this level.”
—Wole Soyinka, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
"This original [novel] is packed with darkly humorous reflections on Africa’s obsession with the West, and the West’s obsession with all things exotic."
—Daily Mail (UK)
"Neither fable nor melodrama, nor what's crudely niched as "world literature," the novel traces the story of a painstakingly-crafted protagonist and his community caught up in the inescapable allure of success defined in Western terms."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
"Unsuppressible, Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. is a splendid work of art that belongs in every reader’s collection. In a masterful manner, Ndibe manages to blend the traditional belief of his Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria with the challenges that face many young and ambitious African immigrants in the USA. The social benefit of the book is immense."