Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia).  No Longer at Ease by China Achebe (1960)

Review written in March.


I read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe in high school and again a few years ago (review from that reading).  The bleak ending didn’t provide an impetus to keep reading the trilogy, but needing to fill the Classic From Africa category encouraged me to give No Longer at Ease a try.

The title comes from T. S. Elliot’s poem “The Journey of the Magi,” but I also noticed the phrase in Job 3:26 (ESV), “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” Just as Okonkwo could not find a place of rest in the tumult of change brought about by British colonialism and his own decisions, his grandson Obi struggles to make a place for himself between two cultures, three if one includes Christianity as practiced by the Igbo. As I discussed the novel with Jason, I realized that Obi must contend with all the drawbacks of both his Igbo culture and the British civil service culture without any of the benefits. The story is by necessity tragic, but the storytelling compelled me to keep reading. I highly recommend both Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease to people that want to consider the pervasive, long-term effects of colonialism. I started Arrow of God, but I’m not going to be able to finish it before Baby #5 arrives, so I’ll postpone reading it until next year.

I think that reading Things Fall Apart along with The Good Earth would make for interesting class discussion, and I’m tempted to try to figure out how to squeeze them into my English class next year.


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