Book details

Publisher: SOHO PRESS
January 2014
ISBN: 9781616953133

Foreign Gods, Inc.

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.


“Razor-sharp… Mr. Ndibe invests his story with enough dark comedy to make Ngene an odoriferous presence in his own right, and certainly not the kind of polite exotic rarity that art collectors are used to… In Mr. Ndibe’s agile hands, he’s both a source of satire and an embodiment of pure terror.”
—Janet Maslin, 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.”
—Ngugi wa Thiong’o, author of Wizard of the Crow

“FOREIGN GODS, INC. is a blistering exploration of the contemporary African immigrant experience in America. Ndibe tackles tough questions: from the shifting notions of home and identity to the nature of greed. In prose which is fresh and often funny, Ndibe draws the reader into the heartbreaking story of Ike Uzondu’s attempt to survive in a world which seems determined to crush him.”
—Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street

“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 takes his readers on a transfixing and revelatory journey from bitter bad faith to  hard won, deeply moving and adult redemption.”
—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name, on Foreign Gods, Inc.

“Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. is one of the most impressive African novels that I have read in years.  Comic, sad—even tragic—Ndibe is a master craftsman, weaving his narrative with ethnic materials (and surprises) and a profundity that will startle you by the end of the story… Ikechukwu Uzondu’s journey into his past is as moving and frightful as Brutus Jones’ fate in Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece, The Emperor Jones.  Clearly, this is one writer to watch.  Moreover, his insights into both America and Nigeria will take your breath away.”
—Charles R. Larson, CounterPunch

“Unsuppressible, Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. is a splendid work of art that belongs in every reader’s collection. In a masterful manner, Ndibe manages to blend the traditional belief of his Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria with the challenges that face many young and ambitious African immigrants in the USA. The social benefit of the book is immense.”
—Sahara Reporters

“A freshly and heartbreakingly recast tale of American immigration, with all its longings, disappointments, effacements and reclamations.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Dazzling… It’s already obvious that 2014 is going to be a big year for African novels…but Okey Ndibe is bound to set himself apart from the pack. Who doesn’t want to read a novel about a good god heist?”
—The Guardian Africa Network on Foreign Gods, Inc.

“Foreign Gods, Inc. leaves readers with this warning: be mindful about the powers you serve, and careful about the ones you seek to cross.”
—The Rumpus

“Ndibe writes of cultural clash in a moving way that makes Ike’s march toward disaster inexorable and ineffably sad.”
—Kirkus, STARRED Review


“This is 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 on Foreign Gods, Inc.

“Wonderfully colorful… There’s more than a touch of Poe, or perhaps The Twilight Zone, in the surreal conclusion of this story.”
—The Hartford Courant

“The best-laid plans often go awry. But they can certainly make for an entertaining read.”
—The New York Post

“Ndibe writes with a folksy inclusiveness. The village humor, the greetings and teasing, lend the Utonki sequences a lyrical magic … Into this richly stocked brew of characters, Ndibe skillfully introduces suspense in the final stretch, guiding readers through the tension of getting through customs Nigerian-style … As an author with a foot in Nigeria and the U.S., he expertly brings both worlds to life.”

“Unforgettable … Ndibe seems to have a boundless ear for the lyrical turns of phrase of the working people of rural Nigeria… The wooden deity “has character, an audacious personality,” says one non-African who sees it. So does Ndibe’s novel, a page-turning allegory about the globalized world.”
—Los Angeles Times

“This original [novel] is packed with darkly humorous reflections on Africa’s obsession with the West, and the West’s obsession with all things exotic.”
—Daily Mail (UK)

“A morality tale for our time… With subtle hints at moral turmoil, a gift for dark humour, and characterisation that is perceptive and neatly observed, Ndibe manages to persuade the reader to root for Ike, even as his haphazard plans begin to unravel.”
—The Guardian (UK) on Foreign Gods, Inc.

“A landmark in a promising novelistic career.”
—San Francisco Book Review on Foreign Gods, Inc.

“Okey Ndibe’s novel is dramatic and wonderfully detailed, and his prose is absolutely beautiful—he’s a deeply generous writer with an excellent ear for dialogue.”
—Michael Schaub, NPR on Foreign Gods

“Ndibe is a writer’s writer, and this book is a lesson in the art of the novel.”
–New York Journal of Books

“A challenging romp of gods and styles.”
—John Edgar Wideman, author of Philadelphia Fire