Friday, February 21, 7:00 pm
The Soap Factory
514 SE 2nd St, Minneapolis
Rain Taxi is proud to present acclaimed Nigerian writer Okey Ndibe reading from his riveting new book, Foreign Gods, Inc. (Soho Press). Exploring questions of race, identity, and the commodification of the sacred, the novel tells the story of Nigerian-born New York City cab driver Ike, as complicated a character as any in contemporary literature. Frustrated with his job, divorced from his wife, and at odds with American culture, Ike plots an art heist in his home country, but learns that there is still farther to fall before he hits bottom. A taut, literary thriller, Foreign Gods, Inc. is a novel that wrestles with bad faith and the post-colonial condition in equal measure, and a more than worthy follow-up to Arrows of Rain, Ndibe’s first novel, which Ernest Emenyonu called “A blueprint for the second generation of African novelists.”
Please join us for a reading and discussion with this important writer in the beautiful new heated galleries of The Soap Factory, dedicated to supporting artists and engaging audiences through the production and presentation of contemporary art in a unique and historic environment—now celebrating its 25th year as a laboratory for artistic experimentation and innovation. Free and open to the public—reception to follow! Books will be available for sale at the event, courtesy of Magers & Quinn Booksellers.
ABOUT OKEY NDIBE:
Okey Ndibe was born in Yola, northeastern Nigeria, on May 15, 1960, five months before his country achieved independence from British rule. He remembers his first few years as a period of enchantment, but when he was seven Nigeria descended into a horrific civil war, a defining experience for him. It was in high school that he developed a strong interest in writing; after that, he studied business management at Nigerian colleges and worked as an editor at two Nigerian weekly magazines. He relocated to the U.S. in 1988 when the famed Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe invited him to be the founding editor of African Commentary, a magazine named by such publications as Library Journal, USA Today, and Utne Reader as one of the best magazines of 1989. Ndibe was then admitted to the University of Massachusetts, where he earned an MFA in fiction and a PhD as well. His first novel, Arrows of Rain, was published by Heinemann (UK) in their esteemed African Writers Series. Ndibe also co-edited a book titled Writing on Conflicts and Wars in Africa.
At the turn of the century, Ndibe was a member of the editorial board of the Hartford Courant and his essay “Eyes to the Ground: The Perils of the Black Student” was named the best opinion piece by the Association of Opinion Page Editors. He also writes a widely popular, hard-hitting column focused on Nigerian politics that is syndicated by several Nigerian newspapers and websites. Stung by his unsparing stance against official corruption, the Nigerian government put his name on a list of “enemies of the state” and in January 2011, Nigeria’s security agents arrested him and detained him when he arrived from the U.S. The episode was covered by media around the world, and triggered protests from writers and organizations, among them Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists.
Ndibe has taught at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, Connecticut College in New London, CT, and Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, MA. During the 2001-2002 year, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. He is currently visiting professor of African and African Diaspora literatures at Brown University in Providence, RI.
PRAISE FOR FOREIGN GODS, INC.:
“Razor-sharp... Mr. Ndibe invests his story with enough dark comedy to make Ngene an odoriferous presence... In Mr. Ndibe’s agile hands, he’s both a source of satire and an embodiment of pure terror." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“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
“Foreign Gods, Inc. reads like the narrative of a taxi-driving Faust in modern Nigeria and America. With Moliere-like humorous debunking of religious hypocrisy and rancid materialism, it teems with characters and situations that make you laugh in order not to cry.” —author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
“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
“Ndibe adds his voice to a new generation of writers . . . [Ike’s] picaresque journey, gently but incisively told, shows us the vagaries of both American and African culture.”—Library Journal
"A heist story like no other... Ndibe unfurls his rich narrative gradually, allowing room for plenty of character interaction while painting a revealing portrait of contemporary Nigeria. With piercing psychological insight and biting commentary on the challenges faced by immigrants, the novel is as full-blooded and fierce as the war deity who drives the story." —Booklist
“This gritty, poetic, at times hallucinatory novel, humorous and then heart-rending and tense, narrates a journey that feels true and lived in the soul. Okey Ndibe takes his readers on a transfixing and revelatory journey... I feel grateful to have read this remarkable novel.” —author Francisco Goldman
“A challenging romp of gods and styles.” —author John Edgar Wideman