Sunday, July 27, 2008

BOOK: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

African Reading Challenge; Orbis Terrarum: Nigeria; 1% Well Read Challenge; decades challenge: 1950s

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, so I kept putting it on another challenge list, hoping to finally get around to it. It gets scary when one book is on so many challenges, because what if I don't like it? I finally read it, appropriately enough during a wonderful heat spell, helping me get into the mood for a story set in 1890s Nigeria, in the African jungle. It took a while to get into the style of the writing but once I did I felt rewarded with a wonderful look at life in an African village.

The story follows Okonkwo, a leader and warrior in his local village, and his family. For the first third, the plot is just explaining the family and the lifestyle and sets up the pivotal point in the story. This is also about the influx of the British and the effect of the Christian missionaries on the tribes. Achebe does a great job of using a small family and village to see how the clashes occurred between the two groups which sets up the colonial situation in Africa which still has repercussions today. By the time the ending came with the inevitable showdown, I felt so bad for how the situation had deteriorated. As usual, there were good people on both sides but they were never enough.

Okonkwo was a flawed character to focus the book on. Even within his village, he was aggressive and violent and impatient with people he determined were less than him. I found it hard to like him and yet he was determined and smart and a leader. Even though life in the village of Umuofia was so far removed from my own, it helped to show me how that culture conflicted so much with the British who arrived. There is another novel, No Longer At Ease that I will have to look into that follows one of Okonkwo's descendants. I am going to look for it because this was a very good book and I would like to read another one of Achebe's African novels.


  1. Wonderful review! This one has been on my TBR for quite awhile now.

    I'm not quite sure I know wat a feed footer is, but I think your reviews are quite pithy!

  2. I read this in my high school ap lit class but don't recall a thing. I must read it again.

    As for the feed footer, I have no idea how to change it so I don't. But I do find your frequent changes to it quite amusing. Thanks for the extra bit of humor....

  3. Great review! I have been wanting to read this since I first heard about it.

  4. I have had this on my TBR list for a while now. One of these days I will get to it!

  5. I read this trilogy straight through, because I liked Things Fall Apart so much. No Longer at Ease is one and the other is Arrow of God. I have them all reviewed on my blog.

    I hope you like the others, too!

  6. teddy rose and rebecca - the feed footer is on the settings options of blogger. It is easily changed, but only seen on feed readers, not the blog.

    wendy - it was slow starting, I think I've started it several times and never got past the first few pages, but once I persevered, it was worth it.

    marg - I felt the same way. It's a school library book, and I've taken it home the past two summers and just finally read it. It's so short (184 pages) that it was easy to pass over. I was also concerned it was one of those long short classic books.

    lezlie - I am now on the lookout for the next books. I don't think my library has them though, so it will be a longer term project.


  7. (I don't use that's why I didn't know about the feed footer!)

  8. I read it in high school too, and can't remember anything about it. I have vague plans to read it again some day, but have to admit that the plot line doesn't really appeal to me.

  9. hey.. nice review! looks like an interesting book! i am going to add it to my list and read it soon!:) will let you know what i thought about it..i read purple hibiscus for my orbis terrarum challenge book from nigeria and i liked it. i'm thinking there are similarities between the two authors.. have you read any of chimamanda adiche's books??

  10. Glad you liked this one--it is definitely one that I could re-read!

  11. I didn't know there was a follow up with one of his descendents. Oh and it looks like there is a third too (thanks lezlie). Will look out for them thanks.

  12. I read this one a year or so back for the first time and really enjoyed it. I like your take on it.


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