Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe

Having read and really enjoyed Things Fall Apart, when I saw that my cousin had this book, I thought I would give it a read. I am very glad I did so! What a fascinating and challenging book! This is a novel about Obi Okonkwo, a Nigerian who goes to England for college and then returns to work in Nigeria. He is enabled to do so with funding from an organization in his tribe. When he returns, he is given a position in the civil service in Lagos. Though he has a good job, a brand new car, and is paid extremely well, he finds himself very uncomfortable with much of what goes on around him and has difficulty understanding and dealing with what is expected of him from his employer, the tribal organization, his family, and his friends. Obi has changed, gained new views, and he is not always sure how to live those out back in his homeland. This novel tells of the personal, moral, and ethical dilemmas he faces- both the obvious and subtle challenges. I don’t know if I recognized the subtle yet profound nature of many of his struggles because I know a bit about Nigerian culture, but I even felt myself wrestling with what would be RIGHT or WRONG for him to do.  And not just what is theoretically right but living that out when (and even if) everyone around you is living in a way that you understand to be wrong. It’s not always so clear. And certainly not easy.

This is an easy read, though a deep book, and I recommend it, particularly if you enjoyed Things Fall Apart or have an interest in Nigerian culture.

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