Each time I read and teach Things Fall Apart, I find new elements to appreciate. I think they are easy to overlook as Achebe’s writing – perhaps in the manner of the stories so important to these first novels – flows like water. It is so easy to turn pages.
In No Longer at Ease, Achebe (who, despite the claims of the Internet, died just once in 2013) has created a memorable male protagonist, Obi Okonkwo. Like his grandfather, Obi is trying to hold on to something he believes or even knows to be true. But circumstances pile up against him and his fate, like that of his grandfather, seems inevitable. By using a frame story, Achebe has even advertised it. In the end, as in the first novel, Achebe makes it as difficult to judge the protagonist as it is easy to judge everything and everyone around him.
I even love the artwork on my edition. Obi is bound by so many strings – money, village, family, Clara, his grandfather, British poetry, etc..
I look forward to completing the trilogy by reading Arrow of God.