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No Longer at Ease (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Chinua Achebe
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Jan 2010 Penguin Modern Classics

Obi Okonkwo is an idealistic young man who, thanks to the privileges of an education in Britain, has now returned to Nigeria for a job in the civil service. However in his new role he finds that the way of government seems to be backhanders and corruption. Obi manages to resist the bribes that are offered to him, but when he falls in love with an unsuitable girl - to the disapproval of his parents - he sinks further into emotional and financial turmoil. The lure of easy money becomes harder to refuse, and Obi becomes caught in a trap he cannot escape.

Showing a man lost in cultural limbo, and a Nigeria entering a new age of disillusionment, No Longer at Ease concludes Achebe's remarkable trilogy charting three generations of an African community under the impact of colonialism, the first two volumes of which are Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (28 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141191554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141191553
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and was a graduate of University College, Ibadan. His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic and fund-raising missions. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad. For over fifteen years, he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown University. Chinua Achebe wrote over twenty books - novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry - and received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He died in 2013.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I've acquired a taste for Achebe and his ways, but this lesser known work is the one that I've enjoyed most. The author has come under criticism from feminists for the relegation of women in his novels, but for me he is describing a reality rather than making value judgements himself.
Some of Achebe's literature is difficult for a twenty-first century Westerner to understand as it focuses so much on the traditional African ways of life, and perhaps this novel, set in the 1960's in the city of Lagos, is easier for us to comprehend. This book captured my full sympathies: it is easy to see the inevitability of corruption in the society Achebe is describing, and the reader is encouraged to journey on a downward spiral along with the protagonist. Thus the reader forms a bond with the youthful, intelligent and idealistic Obi and is left drenched with a sense of poignancy and anger.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars no longer at ease 7 April 2010
No Longer at Ease (Penguin Modern Classics)
This book was the second in the trilogy ( although my book jacket stated it was the third) and i found this book not as engaging as the first. It lost in strength.. as did the main character, failing to fulfill expectations from all those around him. He seems to resist what is expected from him, for most of the story but succombs in the end. A symbol of a country which gains independence and then squanders it, thus inhibiting further growth for all but a few.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Decline and Fall of an Idealistic Man 8 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chinua Achebe is a supreme story-teller. With Achebe, there is no high-minded judgment, no ascription of guilt, no rebuttal of colonialism, and no axe to grind. In this wonderful book, Achebe takes the reader on a journey, charting the inexorable descent of a dashing, idealistic civil servant in Colonial Nigeria.

The novel is set in the 1950s. The protagonist is the young, Western-educated Obi Okonkwo. Obi, the grandson of Okonkwo, the tragic protagonist of Achebe's great novel, Things Fall Apart, is sent on a scholarship to Great Britain, where he studies English. On his return to Nigeria, Obi is automatically catapulted into the elite ranks of the Civil Service; he receives a nice car and a posh apartment in a smart 'all European' neighbourhood in the capital city, Lagos. At the age of twenty-five, Obi, who was raised in a provincial backwater, seems to be on his way to the top.

However, all is not well with Obi. He struggles to reconcile his Western training and Christian upbringing with his native Ibo traditions. In time, Obi falls for the beautiful Clara and proposes to marry her. One small snag: Clara belongs to a cast of untouchables called the Osu. His parents, especially his dying mother, are dead set against the union. Moreover, the tactless Obi is beset by financial problems almost from the onset; he cannot seem to make ends meet even on his government salary. His problems are compounded by his mother's death and Clara's unexpected pregnancy. Reality slowly erodes Obi's idealism and he finds that he cannot resist the lucre that his Civil Service position offers. Alas, such ill-gotten wealth is a poisoned chalice. Our hero is caught accepting a bribe, and this rising star declines ignominiously.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Harsh Realities 29 April 2014
By Caleb Williams VINE VOICE
I've not ling finished reading Achebe's last work, 'Things Fall Apart' and what struck me about that novel, which is very much the case in this, is just how willing Achebe is to display the harsh realities of the time. Simply put, Achebe does not shy away from portraying the truth of the times and does not always guarantee you a happy ending.

This novel is a kind of sequel to 'Things Fall Apart' in that it focuses on the grandson of Ogbuefi Okonkwo, Obi. The start of the novel places Obi in a court facing charges of bribery. We are then taken back a few years to certain points and significant events in his life which brought him to this moment, starting with him being sent to England by his village to receive a university education.

Obi becomes a man of principles, sure that the corruption which is rife in the government of his home country of Nigeria is down to the elders, he is convinced that when the younger people take over the government, corruption will be no more, but we soon learn that the harsh reality of life in 1950s colonial Nigeria make corruption almost inevitable.

The theme of 'Things Fall Apart' was very much about the clash of cultures and while this theme still exists in this book depicting the clash between colonial Britain and tribal traditions and beliefs, it is less prevalent as the colonising effort has advanced much more significantly compared to the 1890s setting of the first novel.

This is less about the clash between white and black, more about clash between young and old. It deals with certain events and cultural traditions that are still held dear to the village elders, but not held with as much importance by the younger generation, particularly Obi.

I would highly recommend this, but if you haven't, you should read 'Things Fall Apart' first, just to get yourself familiar with the narrative style. So far, this ranks as my favourite.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New and stimulating 21 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent and thought-provoking story with a very different theme to novels of the genre. It encourages one to seek his books out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars arrghhh. sad story
I liked it though. Good one from the master storyteller himself- Mr Chinua Achebe. Wish Obi didn't end up that way.
Published 27 days ago by KT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good buy
Published 1 month ago by KWASI OPOKU-SARKODIE
5.0 out of 5 stars Achebe: One of his novels.
i am intrigued by Chinua Achebe's fiction writings, as I have now read three of his novels and each one seems to follow its own distinctive style. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Margaret Cowlard
4.0 out of 5 stars I read it as a young person
I bought this book for my children and they like it. I read it when I was in secondary school many years ago and I am going to read it again.
Published 10 months ago by O N OWUSU
5.0 out of 5 stars My brief views on "No Longer at Ease" By Chinua Achebe
I have reread "No Longer at Ease" for the fourth time, just as much as his book “Things Fall Apart”. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jacob J Akol
1.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT the actual novel!
Amazon misleads by linking to this edition as if it is just another publication of the novel. This is a simplified text of the novel for basic English learners. Read more
Published 16 months ago by A. Raghu
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully
I bought this after reading 'Things Fall Apart'. Beautifully written. Just magnificent! I will be buying everything that Achebe has ever written.
Published 20 months ago by chilloutzone
5.0 out of 5 stars great book from a master storyteller
great book-typical achebe style: humourous, emotive, yet reflective of human personality.
finished this book in 2 days- couldn't put it down.
Published 21 months ago by Dominic Bascombe
4.0 out of 5 stars No longer at ease
Having just discovered Achebe and been bowled over by "Things Fall Apart", I thought at first that this lacked the former's authentic magic of the evocation of tribal life amongst... Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2010 by Antenna
5.0 out of 5 stars Best suited for younger readers
This book is best suited for younger readers as it is quite small. It gave me an insight of Nigeria 1950's and 1960's but I finished it within two hours even though I took a break... Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2009 by Georgia Ugwu
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