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No Longer at Ease Paperback – September 16, 1994
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Praise for Chinua Achebe
“A magical writer—one of the greatest of the twentieth century.” —Margaret Atwood
“African literature is incomplete and unthinkable without the works of Chinua Achebe.” —Toni Morrison
“Chinua Achebe is gloriously gifted with the magic of an ebullient, generous, great talent.” —Nadine Gordimer
“Achebe’s influence should go on and on . . . teaching and reminding that all humankind is one.” —The Nation
“The father of African literature in the English language and undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century.” —Caryl Phillips, The Observer
“We are indebted to Achebe for reminding us that art has social and moral dimension—a truth often obscured.” —Chicago Tribune
“He is one of the few writers of our time who has touched us with a code of values that will never be ironic.” —Michael Ondaatje
“For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction.” —Kwame Anthony Appiah
“[Achebe] is one of world literature’s great humane voices.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Achebe is one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from the West African cultural renaissance of the post-war world.” —The Sunday Times (London)
“[Achebe is] a powerful voice for cultural decolonization.” —The Village Voice
“Chinua Achebe has shown that a mind that observes clearly but feels deeply enough to afford laughter may be more wise than all the politicians and journalists.” —Time
“The power and majesty of Chinua Achebe’s work has, literally, opened the world to generations of readers. He is an ambassador of art, and a profound recorder of the human condition.” —Michael Dorris
From the Publisher
The story of a man whose foreign education has separated him from his African roots and made him parts of a ruling elite whose corruption he finds repugnant. More than thirty years after it was first written, this novel remains a brilliant statement on the challenges still facing African society.
Top customer reviews
This is the story of Okonkwo's grandson, who becomes the first person from their village to earn a college degree in the United Kingdom and return to Nigeria. The first scene in the book is his trial for corruption, and then it goes back in time and tells the story of how he got to that point. The story shows the dilemma of a split upbringing of educated Africans through Obi's struggles upon his return to Nigeria. He doesn't quite fit in with the Africans from his village anymore due to his education and experience abroad, but he also isn't considered white and therefore isn't a part of that community either. In the beginning he is super ambitious and wants to change the world. Eventually, he gets sucked into the cyclical nature of corruption and debt that plauges Africa. What I found most interesting about this book is how Achebe uses the one story of Obi to illustrate the plight of colonial Africa.
The idea of belonging to two cultures, a stacked system, societal expectations, and the hypocrisy of religion and culture clashing were really interesting to me especially because all of these are topics i've discussed in my African politics class this semester. Great read.
In this second novel, we find the grandson of chief Obi Okonkwo being sent to the West to study the white man's language, culture and ways. When the grandson, also named Obi, returns to Lagos, Nigeria from England, he secures a prestigious desk job that takes him far away from his cultural and ancestral roots, back in his bush village. But the long arm of his traditional community reaches and influences him, even while he tries to learn and accommodate to the ways of modern Nigeria. In the process, the new, young functionary finds city women, personal finances, white coworkers, his higher education and changing life habits to be an overwhelming challenge. Soon the younger Obi finds that he truly cannot escape his past, in order to satisfy his present life. As much as the hero Obi tries to overcome the demands of his new city life, he is ever pulled down into the morass of public failure, as he strives to be a modern, Western-educated Nigerian.
In the conclusion, the inevitable happens to Obi, due mostly to his naivete about how to navigate the new Nigeria, as a savvy and city-experienced modern man of Lagos. The main character is a typical good guy caught between the old and the new. As a result, Chinue Achebe's trilogy are continuing cautionary tales about how one can appear as one thing on the outside but can also be quite another kind of evolving being, on the inside.
If one enjoys the famed works of Mr. Achebe, other worthwhile, African authors are: Nadine Gordimer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zakes M'day, M. J. Vassanji, Abdulrazak Gurnah or Ben Okri. All are masterful authors about how Africa thinks and works of Africans.
I do feel that this edition is lacking due to the omission of "The Journey of the Magi" at the beginning. One of the questions posed to us about this in class was "Why do you think he started the book with a poem by Eliot?" and those of us with this edition had no idea what he was talking about.
The novel has ways of telling these stories, of showing the culture and the personal complications that usually does not enter the newspaper-articles and the documentaries on TV about "Africa today".
Africa is complicated. Read about it!