Blunted on Reality

blunted on realityThis is a debut novel from Chinedu Achebe and explores love, politics, and culture through the eyes of a young Nigerian man.

On his 29th birthday, the day after the historic election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States, Obi Ifeanyi begins to take stock of his life and where his future lies, particularly in the area of his love life and his career.

A law graduate with a good job in his uncle’s firm, Obi’s personal life is complicated because of his involvement with his ex-girlfriend Tamika, with whom he has a sex-only relationship and his relationship with his ‘friend that’s a girl’, Nkechi with whom he has remained friends with throughout law school and beyond. Torn between two women he clearly cares deeply for, Obi is forced to assess what he really wants from life, what right and what’s best for him. Not only that, his desire to change jobs and perhaps strike out on his own, presents further challenges in terms of family loyalty and expectations.

This was a really interesting read and I enjoyed the clever parallel between a nation on the brink of change and entering into a new season and a young man coming into his own and preparing for his future. It was also a nice change to read about a young Black man who wasn’t getting caught up gangs, street life and all the other negative things associated with young Black men, but was in his own way trying to make a positive difference in his life and his community. We need more novels like this which show a different aspect to Black culture, whether in the US, UK or Africa, than that which is portrayed in mainstream media.

My only criticisms of the novel would be that I found the narrative and the dialogue quite difficult to enjoy especially, the use of language as at times it was very coarse, particularly when referring to women. I thought it rather undermined the character of Obi and made him appear to be quite shallow and sexist when in actual fact he supposed to be the opposite in comparison to some of his friends. Also, the novel as a whole could have done with a good proofread and a judicious editor. Unfortunately, these points let the novel down because as much as I really liked the premise and idea of the story, it wasn’t a massively enjoyable read for me and I came away slightly disappointed. However, this is a first novel and I’m sure that with the ideas that Mr Achebe has for stories, the technique of storytelling and characterisation will come with more experience.

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