Ikechukwu Uzondu graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College and married an American, yet the Nigerian’s life has not gone well. In fact, a decade after he graduated Ike is driving a cab in New York and his marriage is over.
Blaming his sorry plight and inability to find a decent job with his thick accent, Ike also struggles with a drinking problem and gambling addiction. The lower he sinks, the more he blames discrimination and his former wife for his rapid decline.
Suddenly the distraught African sees a glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Ike discovers that there are people in New York who will spend big bucks to obtain authentic statues of foreign deities. Thinking back to his home village in Nigeria, Ike knows of an effigy that would undoubtedly interest these wealthy collectors.
As he returns to his homeland, Ike believes he now sees a way to reverse his misfortune by stealing this sacred statue but, if anything, he is about to complicate his life even more.
This plan to steal the statue of a cherished native war god is going to set off a maelstrom that will make Ike’s former problems seem inconsequential given what he has gotten himself into now.
This excellent, multi-faceted novel that operates on a number of levels, which not only underscores the false promises and frustrations of the immigrant experience in America but also looks at the nature of religious conflicts as well as the infatuation society has with owning authentic ancient artifacts and how destructive that desire can be.
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.
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.
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; and 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.