Linda N. Masi’s story, American Visa is both moral fable and a lesson to her readers about what an American audience daily takes for granted. Her main character, Ndidi Adiela, is a Nigerian college graduate with a long history of get-rich schemes that manage to fail spectacularly. He is desperate, wily, willing to do nearly anything to attain a US visa and entry into a world that will give him all he thinks he could ever want. He dreams of living next to Oprah Winfrey and Al Pacino even as he is forced to sleep in tenement squalor feet from the stink of a shared latrine in his home country. Ndidi is a man caught up in his own vacant thirst for ambition, an ambition that causes him to destroy the lives of those around him in order to gain entry into what he hopes is a luxurious life. The story builds around his efforts to swindle and cheat his way to a US visa, but his rich and lush home-world seems to have other ideas. Masi has an ability to create a world that is both lovely and impoverished, where characters work tirelessly to create a life in this climate even as they demonstrate charity and kindness in the face of Ndidi’s lies. Masi’s story is unique and wonderful, the moral compass of the world turning against her main character in lovely and satisfying ways. Masi’s writing is her own, but her readers will hear the echo of voices like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Angela Flournoy, and her story harkens to the sumptuous world-building of writers like Anthony Doerr. This story is special, and the moral lesson subtle and rewarding.
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