No Longer at Ease is an engaging, deceptively simple book. It tells the story of Obi, a Nigerian man who was given a scholarship by people from his village to attend school in England. The novel, set in the late 1950’s, begins at the point where Obi returns to Nigeria, where he is expected to both serve his country in the civil service, and repay the money used to pay for his education.
Achebe uses Obi’s character and viewpoint to explore the opposing cultural pressures on a man caught between the culture he has come from, and the culture he has been educated to be a part of. The storytelling is economical, and seemingly neutral; it seems as if Achebe is neutrally describing events, but his viewpoint is heavily woven throughout the novel. Every sentence, every word chosen has weight and meaning in terms of the cultural and political viewpoint, but also illuminates the characters. This is a novel that is much, much more than the simple story it tells, but the craft of the writing is so meticulous that it is submerged, almost completely hidden from view. I will definitely be reading more by Achebe.