A short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Adiche's story is extraordinary. It is a brief work, a mere 17 pages, that resonated so strongly with me I read it twice and then shut the book.
'The Arrangers of Marriage' is the story of Chinaza, a young Igbo woman, and her 'new' New York based Doctor-husband, Dave, also a Nigerian.
Back in the day I enjoyed a brief marriage to a beautiful Igbo man. It didn't last; sadly cross-cultural marriages are incredibly challenging. The obligation to be a success, or at least perpetuate the myth of the 'Golden West' to those dependent on you back home, is a very heavy burden.
In the story we read of Chinaza's disappointment when she arrives at her meanly furnished flat, they can't afford good food or phone calls home, and her husband works incredibly long, poorly paid, hours as a resident in a public hospital system. Chinaza eventually discovers that Dave is still married - what? He had married an American to get the Green Card - Oh its quite common apparently, everyone does it. But the divorce hadn't quite been finalised when he travelled home to meet and marry Chinaza. And so they are stuck in a loveless arranged marriage, and not a legal one at that, thus no Green Card and no way to leave and support herself. Nor can she expect any help from home.
Dave is an oafish man - nothing endearing about him at all - but I don't dislike him. So much of the story is so real. The characterisation is so nuanced, or maybe its my history, but I just feel for both of them. Adichie has captured beautifully the sadder side of the expat experience.
Its a beautifully written tale by a young woman who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie also wrote The Purple Hibiscus (finalist 2004 Orange Prize, nominee 2004 Man Booker Prize and winner of the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book.