Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe | Audiobook Review

No Longer at Ease (The African Trilogy, #2)

Such a good book!  It feels a little weird to say that, though, as the story is that of the downfall of Obi Okonkwo.  Obi is a good boy from a good family who "makes it big" in securing a government job.  It's the 1950s in Nigeria, and bribes are almost taken as a normal part of doing business.  Obi is pressured from the start to exchange favors for money.  At first he's able to resist... until he meets a girl.  (That's not a spoiler; it's all in the book's synopsis.)

No Longer at Ease is the story of Obi's coming into adulthood and starting out on his own, away from his village.  It's also the story of how someone handles the transition from a secure culture in which they are assured of their role and into a newer, faster culture, in which they may not quite know how to operate.  Obi grew up in a very traditional home, but had the good fortune to attend school in England.  At this time in Nigeria, government jobs were mostly held by European immigrants, but Obi's education allows him to receive a government job as well.  As soon as his family and friends find out, they begin asking him for money.  He's the one with a salary, after all.  I felt bad for Obi, having to try to balance his own most needs for shelter in the city and food and all with the demands of his family far away.  On top of that, he's just starting a new job and he really wants to succeed.  That's a lot of pressure for a young man!  I was impressed with his ability to handle it all.

Then, as I mentioned earlier, he meets a girl.  As their relationship progresses, he becomes distracted by her and their growing life together, and begins to give in to some of the outside pressures to grant favors and give money.  And... you'll need to read the book to find out if Obi is able to find balance between the culture of his youth and the culture/needs of adulthood!

Speaking of reading the book, I read this one on audiobook and it was great.  I'm an American who's barely ever left the country, so I'm hopeless when it comes to pronouncing African names, even in my head.  I really appreciate audiobooks for this type of book.  And this narrator had a nice lilt to their voice that made for very pleasant listening.

*I checked out my copy of No Longer at Ease from my local library.

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