I just finished reading the tale of Okonkwo, a Nigerian man growing up amidst violence, war, suffering, balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence. In this story the protagonist is a self-made who has worked all his life to overcome his father’s weaknesses. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband of three wives and father to several children.
Yet things start to unravel for Okonkwo when a young boy from another village comes to live with him and his family. Okonkwo becomes fond of the boy – treating him as his own son – until a plague of locusts prompts the village elders to sacrifice the boy to appease the gods. Things go downhill for Okonkwo so much that he is eventually exiled from his village for seven years.
This book is fraught with themes of colonialism, gender, masculinity, and community. It’s deep but it’s plainly written and could be a quick read. You’ll be thinking about it long after though.