As Chinua Achebe's second novel, No Longer at Ease, first published in 1960, arrives at its 60th anniversary, scholars have an opportunity to reassess its significance not only for African literature, but also for world literature in general. The story is set in the 1950's and richly depicts the cultural tensions of African societies nearing independence from Great Britain. It forecasts both the optimism and the disappointment that would characterize post-independence Africa. In dramatizing the fortunes of the Okonkwo family in rural Nigeria and Lagos, No Longer at Ease forms a sequel to Achebe's first and most famous novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), but is not as widely read and discussed as its predecessor. This is regrettable since No Longer at Ease originally was conceived by Achebe as part of the same larger work that would include Things Fall Apart and traces into the modern era, and ingeniously transmutes, many of the motifs that Achebe introduces in that story. These include tensions between cultural and religious traditions, multi-linguistic challenges, gender and class imbalances, and the tragic blighting of talent and aspiration. Moreover, numerous of Achebe's themes in No Longer at Ease find their way into the work of other prominent African authors. This panel will reflect on No Longer at Ease's rich exploration of cultural change, religious tension, multilingual encounter, and political transition in West Africa. Other areas of consideration will be No Longer at Ease's portrayal of changing gender roles and relations and Achebe's almost prophetic anticipation in No Longer at Ease of the official corruption that beset Nigeria after independence.
Please submit abstracts through the NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association) website: http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention/callforpapers.html
Thomas Jay Lynn
Associate Professor of English
Penn State Berks