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Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Name: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 1958
Publisher: Anchor
Notable Points: Made into radio program,
movie, mini-series

This fictional book seems to emerge from the reality of the living conditions and interactions of Nigerian tribal communities in the pre-colonial era and the subtle changes the missionaries did without being extra-aggressive. Chinua Achebe has also explained in great detail on why a character behaves thus with others. All emotions – love, heartbreak, frustration, anger, sacrifice, retirement and the human psychiatry have been given their own spaces and scope to intermingle with each other.

A tough book to read from the start, where one may get confused with the names of the characters sounding very similar to each other. Probably, this is how outsiders may feel about Indian names as well. So that’s normal. But once you remember the character a name is referring to, you get deeply involved with the same. All that ends in a story is not supposed to be well and happy; the ending though was perfect in this case with the tint of tragedy.

It’s been years since Things Fall Apart was published but it’s still one of the favorite books of literature with many schools/ colleges recommending the same (not in India).

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries.

These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

About the author:
Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relied heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.

Rating: 8/10
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