Book Review : Blunted on Reality by Chinedu Achebe


This author has no relationship whatsoever with Chinua Achebe, apart from the fact that they hailed from the same Nigeria. I was updating my profile the other day, when one of my connections remarked that she was not aware that Chinua Achebe had written a book titled “Blunted on Reality”. And of course, she was right, he did not! Take a closer look at the author’s name and you will quickly realize that his first name is “Chinedu Achebe” not “Chinua Achebe”.

I have said it countless times I love to be surprise by books that I know nothing about. The feeling is amazing, you open a book without checking reviews or talking to anyone about it and you end up reading it in 5 straight hours. Of course, you have to be willing to take that risk . Nobody wants to waste time on a book that is not that good. Thank God, this novel did not belong to that category.

About the Book

Blunted on Reality follows the life of Obi Ifeanyi, a Nigerian born American who is coming of age after the historic election of Barack Obama. As Obi confronts challenges that impact his family, career, and romantic interests, he is forced to examine his past and present choices to define his future.

About the Author

Chinedu W. Achebe is a Nigerian of Igbo descent who was born in Richmond, Virginia. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Houston and currently resides in Houston,Texas. He is the oldest of three siblings.

The set up of this story is Obama presidential election and his subsequent victory in 2008. The protagonist – Obi – is coming of age in Houston, where he lives surrounded with his Nigerian family and friends. His life is a pretty normal one : boys, work and girlfriends. You would be excused to think that this is your regular type of novel. In a way it is, until you came across some very pertinent and important observations on black people , African-American, Africans, women and politics to name some of the themes.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the themes in the novel:

Relationship between African-American and Africans: Did you know that some African-American hate Africans? I, for instance, didn’t know. The way I understand it – maybe I am wrong – It’s, actually, not a hate-hate relationship, but it is much more complex than that. Which is quite normal, when we think of our common history, a lot of bad things has happened and as a result some black people were luckier than others. In Blunted on Reality, one African-American guy just lost it one day and took it on Obi for being African. I have to say, I was stunned. You have to understand that it was my first time hearing such a thing. I wonder if it is based on a true story, it all sounds so real.

Black American women and African men: Obi has a very strange relationship with Tamika, an African-American woman. Well, I said strange, but really it is just one of those the-good-guy-loves-a-bad-girl type of story. Obi tried really hard to get Tamika to commit but to no avail. But then again, there are a lot of references to the fact that black women (African-American) always complain about having difficulties finding good black men. As Obi said several times:” they want two contrary things on the same man, impossible of course. The brother have to be cool, have swag but at the same time he must be serious, responsible and treat women right“. What they end up doing is messed up with the wrong man. Very interesting observations on black people relationships scattered in the novel. I love it, because they are so true.

African-American men wasting away : This section concerned one of Obi’s friend, Lamar. So this guy used to be ambitious and “normal” in University. Five years after college, he works as a manager at a local department store, off-work he chases after girls. That’s it! I mean he has no ambitions of going to grad. school or finding a new job, earning more money, settling down or anything of the sort. When I read his story, I was seriously asking myself questions. What the hell is wrong with this guy? What has happened to him? How can you live such a shallow life and not be bothered by it, at all. We shall call it the tragedy of young African-American men. I think they need a purpose. And then, there is his dealings with women. Honestly, I have never understood the relationship dynamic of African-American couples. Men are so disrespectful towards women, and women don’t seem to be bothered by it. Being an outsider to the whole situation, I will naturally have the tendency to judge the book by its cover. Readers please keep that in mind.

A black man at the white house – Two steps forward or one step backward: The main reason I love this book, so much, has to do with the political observations made by Obi and his friend Chichi. At a time when everyone was jumping of joy at the sheer mention of the name Obama (back in 2008 of course), some people had their reservations about the whole issue, which is just fantastic. For one, time has proved them right. That is why I wonder when exactly this book was written. In any case, thumbs up to the author for his very smart and insightful political observations.

Are African women too complicated? This is not a big theme in the book but…it is inherent in the story I would say. So Obi is kind of between two women, an African-American and a Nigerian. When Obi and Chichi interacted, the first think that always come to my mind is “boring”, especially when I compare that relationship to the other one. Furthermore, Chichi did impose a three-month ban on sex on a relationship that has not even started. duh! ( I bet she read Steve Harvey). But I have to command her perfect handling of the situation. Even though both women were not sure about commitment and marriage,Tamika chose the sex avenue, while Chichi, on the other hand, chose the friendship avenue. Maybe there are a great lesson to be learned here for women. So I ask again are we too complicated or we just have high standards?

Blunted on reality: First of all, great title! In fact, one the best I have come across in my reading life. It really reflects the entire book. So what reality are we talking about here? For example, Obi and his friends went to University on ideology, after graduation, they realized that this was not the future they had envisioned while in school. Does this ring a bell? It is pretty common these days. We all know that the career path that brings in money are not necessarily the one you are passionate about. Another great example would be on the relationship side, Obi versus Tamika and Obi versus Chichi. You love a girl very much, she loves you too, but she is commitment phobic while you on the other end are anxious to settle down. What do you do? The reality is you can’t force a person to marry you or be your girlfriend. Your only option is to move on as Obi found out at the end.

I thoroughly enjoy this book. Mainly because black people psychology – If I can call it that – is one of my favorite topic. I also appreciate the fact that the book was very current. I recommend of course, but I guess you will more relate to the story, if you live in North America.