Blunted on Reality tells the story of Obi Ifeanyi, a Nigerian-American man who as he nears his 30th birthday, is questioning certain life challenges including career fulfillment, family decisions and dating. The story takes place during the first year of Obama’s presidency and tackles how the presidential victory affects the character’s lives.
Blunted on Reality is the first book by Virginia-born indie author Chinedu Achebe. We talked to Chinedu Achebe to find out about his inspirations and future plans and to learn more about the thought processes that went into creating the story.
Barack Obama’s election win in 2008 and his inauguration in 2009 both play a major role in the shaping of the story. How important was it for you to include this milestone in the book?
It was very important to include Obama’s election victory and his subsequent presidency into the story. It was the centerpiece of my book which allowed me to create the storyline around my main character, Obi Ifeanyi and the other characters in the book.
The book addresses a lot of issues that are common amongst first generation Africans living abroad ( i.e. the importance of a good education, career and a solid family structure). Did you model any part of the story on your own life?
The book was modeled after certain aspects of my life, but I also discussed various topics like dating and certain political issues as well which were being talked about during 2008 and 2009.
Were Obi’s views and opinions based on your own personal thoughts? Are there any similarities between you and him?
Their are few similarities with myself and Obi. We both are looking for our place in the world along with the right woman to share that space with. Also both of us enjoy talking about politics.
How did you develop your characters? Are they based of people you know?
The characters were based on different conversations with friends and family, along with some women that I have dated during the course of my adult life.
The Fugees make an appearance in the storyline and the book is also called Blunted on Reality (the name of Fugees first album). Would I be right in guessing that you are a Fugees fan?
Yea, I am big fan of The Fugees. Their lyrics were always honest and very thought provoking.
Both Tamika & Nkechi are strong women in their own right but seem to be polar opposites when it comes to how they value relationships. Is there an obvious (stereotypical) difference between African American and Nigerian girls? What do these different relationships come to mean to Obi?
I have dated both groups of women and I don’t think their is a big difference between African American vs Nigerian American women. In regards to what these relationships mean to Obi, I think it is more based on the different points in his life. When he is with Tamika, he is still young and trying to find himself in undergrad, while when he meets Nkechi, he is law school and has a somewhat clearer picture of what he envisions his life will be.
Obviously you share the same last name as the legendary author Chinua Achebe. As a young author, do you feel any pressures to live up to the Achebe last name? Has it a blessing or a curse while trying to promote the book?
I never felt any pressure to live up to Chinua Achebe’s stature. My work represented the thoughts and experiences that I have come across during my time which is different from his.
How has your story been received by readers in America in comparison to readers in Africa. Are your readerships any different?
For my African readers, I think it gave them alot of insight into the divide between black Americans vs Africans which many of them didn’t know really existed. My American readers enjoyed it and got some insight into Nigerian culture and what Obama meant to them.
How are your family and friends finding your success?
Both my family and friends were pretty excited for the success of my book. I think they started to see it was something big when they saw my book being featured in various blogs and online magazines.
Which Authors (if any) inspire you?
I was inspired my Chinua Achebe, especially by his second book, No Longer at Ease. I also drew alot of inspiration from the filmmaker Spike Lee. I have always been a fan of his movies and how he discussed social and political issues while still entertaining his audiences.
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading Chinua Achebe’s last book, There was a Country. I hope to read Chimamanda Adichie’s book Americanah in the near future.
What’s next for Chinedu Achebe?
I am thinking about writing another book, but that is still in the brainstorming process. I am still trying to get the word out about Blunted on Reality. I have only just scratched the surface in terms of promoting and marketing the book.