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on October 11, 2013
Of course, this is a downward spiral book, but we're told on the first page that it would be a story of a Nigerian's downfall. I always read these books with trepidation (other examples include "Sister Carrie" and "Bonfire of the Vanities)." This week came word of a study that people who read literary works of fiction have more empathy and social skills. This book is a perfect example of a work that will help the reader develop more empathy. The main character, Obi Okonkwo's kinsmen in the Umuofia Progressive Union, are quick to jump to conclusion and engage in stereotypes. But the story shows that the facts of Obi's life don't completely fit those stereotypes.
And less one thinks that this story is only applicable to Nigerians, just think of all the young people in the US coming out of college with onerous student loans, with a first job that doesn't pay as well as it should, and trying to live up to the norms of the social class of the college educated. I worry about the downward spiral for many of our young in this country.
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on February 17, 2017
Things Fall Apart was such a great read, I dove into this one expecting a similar experience but the story started out so disjointed I had difficulty keeping up and paying attention. A third of the way into the book it felt like a story began unfolding that I could truly follow.

The main character isn't exactly likeable and I honestly felt more connected to the characters on the periphery - Clara, Joseph, the President of Umofia, and even Christopher.

It was a decent read and pulled similar conflicts from Things Fall Apart into another generation and under different circumstances - culture, duty, status, family.
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on May 10, 2004
No Longer at Ease, in my opinion, is actually a better book than Things Fall Apart. Achebe does a masterful job of depicting the experience of an ex-patriate returning home after many years abroad. Such experience is universal, not confined to Nigeria or the main character Obi Okonkwo (grandson of the main character in Things Fall Apart).
In adition to the ex-pat experience, Achebe inserts the peculiarly Nigerian experience, in which a group of British still retained some of the leadership positions in civil service while native Nigerians were mostly focused on politics. The moral aspect is also noteworthy, as the widely accepted corruption and favouring done by Nigerians in power was not mirrored by the British.
Aside from the socio-historical aspect of the novel, Achebe is very sensitive in showing the downward spiral of young Obi, as he tries to fight against strong unreasonable traditions (such as with his girlfriend who is of a banished caste). Obi gets enmeshed in a vicious cycle in which he needs to show success, to a point in which his salary can longer sustain his lifestyle, which is forced upon him by expectations.
I highly recommend this book, especially to ex-pats of any nation. As an ex-pat returned home myself, I feel many of the same difficulties Obi did. Obi's anguish and pain are crystal clear, and any ex-pat will relate.
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on July 30, 2013
For those readers who like to experience the literature of other worlds, the famed THINGS FALL APART trilogy of Chinua Achebe continues to offer an insight into how other cultures operate and contrast with others' ways of life. In this second of the three books about the downfall of traditional African societies, Mr. Achebe continues his story of an African chief's family, as it tumbles from community grace and fortune, under the advance of Western powers' influx and influence, on the African continent.

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.
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on June 26, 2015
After reading Things Fall Apart, I decided to check out the next book in the series.

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.
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on February 9, 2017
Great book and very interesting story told from the eyes of a Nigerian tribe at the time of English colonization. The only thing I disliked was the fact that besides the main character which is quite complex and suffers from all sorts of internal struggles, the others are fairly cookie cutter personas, inserted there for the sole purpose of moving the story forward. Yet none of them really stand out or make the reader form an attachment to them or care for their plight. I also particularly liked the writing style, which uses simple words and short sentences but evokes powerful images in the mind of the reader. Very similar to Hemingway's prose in my opinion.
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on January 7, 2017
I evidently read the trilogy out-of-order, but this was still a wonderful read, with a twisted conclusion. The main character isn't really a likable fellow, but you have to feel for him and the delimma in which he finds himself.
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on October 1, 2013
My daughter needed this book for school. My complaint is not about the content but the product.

Bookseller obviously copied pages from the original book on a crappy printer and bound it themselves. THIS IS NOT WHAT WE PAID FOR. If my daughter hadn't needed to read it immediately. I would have returned it and demanded my money back.
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on April 2, 2014
This is a sequel to Achebe's renowned "Things Fall Apart," a novel about European colonialism in Africa that the New York City Public Library once deemed to be among "the 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written." The sequel of colonialism was neocolonialism, and "No Longer At Ease" does a brilliant job of depicting the social reality of neocolonialism in post-World War II Africa. It provides the context that makes the problem of corruption in third-world countries, if not excusable, at least understandable. In doing so, it exposes the shallowness of most Western critiques of modern Africa's problems.
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on November 1, 2016
Achebe's first book, "Things Fall Apart" was a small masterpiece in my view. His second doesn't match. The story, while interesting is less complex. It speaks about the common experience of the expatriate from the developing country returning home and trying to fit into his now uncomfortable mother-land, but it doesn't generalize philosophically as does "Things Fall Apart". In the first novel we are exposed, not only to two cultures clashing, enriching, and destroying each other, but the universal law of unintended consequences.

However, "No Longer at Ease" is a good, definitely worthwhile read.
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