The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi: Book Review & Interview With The Author

The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi, the sequel to Blunted In Reality, by Chinedu Achebe is about a young Nigerian American, Obi and his relationship with his wife, his family, his friends and the spirit of the Obama re-election era. The characters in the novel are educated, and as you often find among educated immigrants, there's a lot of sociopolitical debate. In one scene there is a discussion  surrounding President Barrack Obama being the first black president of the United States. On the one hand, there is pride that Obama, a son of an African, became the leader of the free world. But on the other hand, it is Michelle, the daughter of stolen Africans that is said to create more excitement and inspiration to many for her unapologetic "blackness," in the way she carries herself, asserts herself and represents her people. 

Achebe paints a realistic picture of marriage in his depiction of the marriage between Obi and Nkechi. Obi is a free spirit, a restless  soul while Nkechi is a more traditional but highly focused and intelligent woman. They are both raising an infant, Ike. Nkechi is often overwhelmed raising their son and attempting to weave together her career goals. This often affects their sex life, or lack of. This leaves Obi's mind wandering especially after Tamika, his former African American girlfriend enters the picture. And later, another ex-girlfriend, Sade, who begins working closely with Nkechi on a campaign. Unbeknownst to Nkechi, Obi and Sade share a secret from their past that could "shake their world," if Nkechi were to find out. 

Some may argue there is a misogynist element among Obi and his peers as they discuss their love lives and their views on marriage and relationships. There stance is not often politically correct, but is based on the way a lot of men feel and think. It was intriguing for me as a reader going into the male psyche. In one scene Obi is shocked to discover that women no matter how proper they appear also have strong sexual urges as men when he stumbles on his sister in an uncompromising position. 

Besides the topic of sex and relationships, this novel captures the spirit of a time when there was a strong feeling of hope and possibility brought about by the Obama administration. I enjoyed reliving that time through this book and what it meant for African immigrants in America. For us it meant we could do and achieve anything in this country. Sadly, we live in a time that is a flip-side to what we had then.

I highly recommend this book. It is intellectually stimulating, nostalgic and portrays a worldview that is not often found in literature. 

Below is the interview I had with the author, Chinedu Achebe. 

First of all, are you related to Chinua Achebe?

No. I get it all the time, but I am not related. 

How did your journey as a Writer begin?

It started around 2009. I started writing a blog, and it was about when Obama first got into office. And then after that, I just started to figure out about writing a book. I wrote my first book, Blunted In Reality. I wrote that in 2012. After that I took a break. I didn't think I was going to write another book, but I got the itch and in 2014,  I started working on The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi. I didn't know the title yet when I first started so as the book progressed, I decided to make him the title of the book. I didn't start out as a Writer. I went to school for Economics. I work as an Accountant full time. I kind of did all of this on my spare time when I got off work. 

That is really cool. So what was it like reliving a time in America when politics was shifting and the consciousness of America was shifting around President Obama's election?

It was great because the two books I wrote capture two different moments. Blunted In Reality started in the end of 2008, getting into Obama's first term in office. There's a jubilation, there's an energy ... and the characters felt that way. I think with the 2012, he's been in office. The energy is there but not as much. It is more like hopefully he gets another term. Both books capture different moments in his presidency and different moments in the lives of Americans as well. 

I love how the sequel touches on several themes from politics, to religion, to sex and extra-marital affairs. It's all from the perspective of Nigerian Americans. Often times when you read books about Nigerians or Africans it is set in Nigeria or Africa or in between cultures.  Did you get a lot of inspiration from personal life?

A lot of it was personal, a lot of it was experience with conversations I had with my girlfriend, and my other friends who are Nigerians. Sometimes people have this idea that all Nigerians are this way or that way, and it is like no, Nigerians are not all the same. Sometimes we get stereotyped into this one thing. So it was good to flesh out a topic like religion. Not everyone goes to Redeemer Church. I was born and raised in the States. Nigerian culture is part of who I am, and also the Black American culture. I fit in both worlds. I don't see anything that expresses both worlds. 

My favorite Character in the novel is Nkechi. A lot of women can relate to a thirty something year old woman trying to juggle a husband, a son and career goals. Do you think Nigerian men are getting better at accepting their wives being just as career driven as them?

I'm engaged. My girlfriend is a lawyer and she's very ambitious. So I think it depends on the Nigerian man. Nigerian men kind of want that but we also want the woman that is kind of like our mom. Not to say my mom wasn't career driven but she kind of sacrificed for her kids by being a home a bit. For many Nigerian men you kind of want that from your wives. You think, if my mom did that, why can't you? But then you realize that our wives have more demanding jobs, so they don't have that type of time. As a man you may come to realize you have to do things that you don't normally do to help out. It's a fine line, you know. 

Any future projects?

No at this moment, nothing in particular. I would love to write about what is going on right now with Trump. 


Another sequel?

That would be a good one. I've been thinking about it but to craft a story-line that's the thing. I think when I was writing the first one, I had a lot of inspiration with President Obama as the center. With the second book, he was part of it but not as fresh. But to try to find another backdrop, I am not sure, I don't know whether to use the same characters or create new ones. I am still debating that. 

About Chinedu Achebe

Chinedu Achebe is a Nigerian of Igbo descent. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, received his Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Houston and currently resides in Houston, Texas. His first novel Blunted In Reality was published in 2012. The sequel, The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi is available on Amazon here: Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi

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