The year that Barack Obama makes history as the first black American President, is the year that Obi, a lawyer, makes 29 years and it works as a wakeup call for him- it is the year that he realizes he needs to settle down with a wife, and it is the year that he decides he needs a career change.
Blunted on Reality is Achebe’s debut novel and the story is about Obi Ifeanyi, a Nigerian born young man living in Houston. Obi as mentioned before has just turned 29 and he realizes he is not getting any younger. He has to settle down and his parents think so too. His mother is more vocal about the kind of woman he should settle down with- a ‘real’ Nigerian woman not an ‘akata’ (a derogatory term used to describe black American women). Obi is more open, all he wants is a woman who will love him for who he is and is intelligent; but maybe his past experience with Tamika, his black American lover could prove his mother right.
Set against the backdrop of the election first black American president, the story does not just focus on Obi’s search for a wife, but also discusses the Obama election in detail and what that meant to the black Africans and Americans in general and how they felt about it or their expectations from him. To them, “He was the embodiment of older black Americans who had to defer their dreams because of racial discrimination. He also provided hope to the younger generation that all things were possible.” It was interesting to read all those varied ideas about the historical election; especially those from the people close to Obi and his family. It showed just how much the black people hoped he would do for them not just as America’s president but as a black man and what it meant to Africa as a whole.
Achebe also notes the animosity that exists between Black Americans and Africans (I must admit this was a bit shocking, to me we are all the same) which may make some readers uncomfortable. Obi’s uncle talks about his first days in college- he says he and other African students felt like outsiders. Some black students asked them why their great grandfathers sold their own people to the white man. The stereotype is not one sided, some statements in the book show that even some Africans don’t relate well with Black Americans for example Obi’s parents don’t dislike black American women, but they “feel that their lack of culture would influence their own kids not to follow theirs if they got married…..they also heard stories….about black women refusing to take their husband’s Nigerian name, not wanting their kids to have Nigerian names……..”.
Blunted on Reality makes for an interesting read but is in some places as blunt as the title suggest. It should come with a parental advisory (for adults only).
As for Obi, readers will have to read to the end to find out how things turn out. Does he find the woman of his dreams and what happens to his career?