Book Review: Foreign Gods, Inc
Foreign Gods, Inc is a fiction novel by the author Okey Ndibe published 2014, his second book after Arrows Of Rain.
Foreign Gods, Inc is the story of a taxi-driving graduate Nigerian in America seeking that ever elusive American dream.
The book starts with a visit to Foreign Gods, Inc a curious gallery that deals in the nouveau art of buying and selling of deities, a vogue for the filthy rich; who buy deities as if they are common albeit expensive artifacts.
Ikechukwu Uzondu, “Ike for short” pronounced Ee-kay; is an Amherst College Economics graduate who has been driving a cab for 13 years while trying to catch a break in the corporate world hatches a daring plan to travel home to Nigeria for the first time in ten years, steal Ngene their God of War and make a fortune by selling it to Mark Gruels owner of Foreign Gods, Inc.
Ike’s full name Ikechukwu means God’s Strength and upon reflection, there is a certain irony to it…
Foreign Gods, Inc explores the hustle of being an immigrant trying to carve out a niche, in a place so far from your roots that you begin to lose touch with them, an alien broad and yet a stranger at home, never quite fitting in either place. The story starts in America but the book is mostly set in the village of Utonki, Nigeria during Ike’s home visit where he intends to carry out his diabolical plan and spirit away a wooden statue that is the embodiment of Ngene his people’s God Of War.
Ike justifies his intentions with need and greed:
In an age when gods must travel or die, he, Ike, would become the instrument to refuel Ngene. It had fallen to him to show the world to Ngene, stuck too long in Utonki, and Ngene to the world.
“…in a postmodern world, even gods and sacred objects must travel or lose their vitality; any deity that remained stuck in its place and original purpose would soon become moribund.”Mark Gruels Foreign Gods, Inc
Okey Ndibe the author himself a devout Christian, also delves into a cultural and religious clash with the story of Ngene god of war juxtapositoned between tales of Reverend Walter Stanton, the first missionary to bring Christianity to the people of Utonki in 1898 to the present day, with its new brand of religion while taking a swipe at those whose religion is to line their pockets.
Having recently read Arrows Of Rain there was familiarity in the quaint riverine village of Utonki whose life revolved around the river in which Ngene’s spirit was buried. And of course grandmother Nne blind, yet saw more than most, offering wisened anecdotes
“Years ago, a black coat fell over my eyes. I stopped seeing as I used to. Yet, I started seeing in a new, deeper way. I now see even the things masked by the night.”Nne
The plot is slow moving with less of the story about the actual heist of deity which from the very first page we would have been set up of for, follows the rouguish protagonist we are not sure we love hate or should even root for; as plans unfold and unravels to an ending that will have you turning the next page looking for more………
“Foreign Gods, Inc. reads like the narrative of a taxi-driving Faust in modern Nigeria and America. With Molière-like humorous debunking of religious hypocrisy and rancid materialism, it teems with characters and situations that make you laugh in order not to cry.”—Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o,
Foreign Gods, Inc is ultimately a story of identity, need and greed.