Things Fall Apart
Mr Achebe's non-dramatic, unsurprised, and almost matter-of-factly stating of facts and events encourages the reader to get involved in the story, even though what is being narrated for the most part is the daily comings, goings, traditions, religion, and worldview of the African clan we are reading about. Even when somebody is killed, Mr Achebe doesn't make a big deal out of it when most writers would choose to invest the all-human empathy that death, or dramatic events in general, seems to evoke in the audience, and therefore guarantee engagement. And that serene attitude is preserved even at the end of the book, where we are made to imagine that everything we have read so far is going to be crammed into a paragraph in a Western guy's memoir talking about The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.
I must admit that I have difficulty concentrating on the story itself when foreign names and words are frequently used in a text - I'd rather read on in whatever language I'm reading in (it's usually Turkish or English for now). I had the same difficulty with this book but all I had to do was to make a bigger effort to concentrate. And it was worth it.