Obi got home to find Ike asleep beside Nkechi while she watched television. Seeing the image of his family, the one he had consciously created, made it crystal clear to him that these two people were his main priority in life. This was his wife and his son, and he had chosen them.
On New Year’s Day, Obi Ifeanyi, in his early thirties, happily married and a father, realizes he reached a critical point: is the life he has really the one he wants ? Is love really the way he imagined it ? Is responsibility harder to take that he thought ?
In the time span of one year, in the context of Obama’s second election, the characters of Achebe’s novel all seem to become suddenly aware of the complexity of human relations ; in his circle of educated and open-minded friends, Obi takes a step back from everything he thought he knew and question the values he was brought up to believe in, like marriage, loyalty, or love.
Chinedu Achebe’s novel could be read as a modern version of coming of age in a globalized world in which even growing up isn’t was what it used to be ;education is here replaced by miseducation as if to signify that coming of age evolves with time and society. At different times of their lives, the characters in the novel discover different faces of themselves in relations to others; some of these faces are positive, others are darker and less loyal than they thought.
So what happens when education meets miseducation ? When people meet new challenges and discover that even in older generations human relations were more complex than meets the eye? The characters are never more faced with their true nature than when novelty (be it a former lover, a new job, a new baby, the decision to get married) comes their way.
Obi’s new coming of age is realizing that things are never really what they seem. In a world of intercultural relations, where tradition is redefined and challenged, Obi becomes the icon of a generation who feels they do not have to identify with something and stick to it, but rather becoming different with every experience.
Review by Ioana Danaila
Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.
Source: The African Book Review