Book: FOREIGN GODS, INC.
AUTHOR: Okey Ndibe
PUBLISHED: JANUARY, 2014
Book Description: 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.
Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. tells the story of a Nigerian-born New Yorker called Ike. Ike has an Amherst degree in economics, however his thick Nigerian accent has kept him from finding a job in corporate America, so he works as a taxi driver. His customers mispronounce his name, as Americans are wont to do, and the name they call him means “buttocks” in Igbo.
Ike, like many before him, married an American woman for a green card and through her greed, incurred substantial debt that cripples him with anxiety. Everything in his life is not going great but he has a plan to remedy that situation, a plan that involves the theft of an ancient deity, a powerful war god, Ngene, from his village in Nigeria. And he reckons he will sell it to an art gallery – Foreign Gods Inc. – and specifically to its proprietor who buys and sells foreign deities.
Most of the book takes place on Nigeria and Ike’s return to Nigeria reveals him to be displaced, neither of here nor there, a plight that many an immigrant faces. One is too American for your countrymen, and too African for the Americans.
Of course he is placed on a pedestal as a rich man from America. Ike finds himself caught between his mother, who is under the influence of a shady Christian pastor who worships at the alter of the almighty dollar and his uncle who clings to the war god Ngene and the old ways.
This book IS NOT about love and redemption. The main character is not exactly like-able. I tried to root for him but I just couldn’t.
The book is about how desperate, greedy and pathetic humans get when they feel the world has denied them that which creates status; power, money, and respect. It is also about religion and the worship of gods and what that makes men do, what sacrifice men have to make to appease their gods.
The premise is not only compelling, it’s real. So many African deities have been sold by their own people for petty cash paid by foreigners who display them in glass cases in art galleries and museums and sell them to the highest bidder.
And that ending. That ending! Did I mention the ending? I should probably stop now before I give it away.