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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart (original 1958; edition 1994)

by Chinua Achebe

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12,602280190 (3.74)747
Title:Things Fall Apart
Authors:Chinua Achebe
Info:Anchor (1994), Paperback, 209 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Nigeria, colonialism, change

Work details

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)

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Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
Wonderfully told tale with a brutal, unexpected ending. Life under colonization sucks. ( )
  KymmAC | Feb 5, 2016 |
Had a little trouble getting into this relatively short book, but was finally really enjoying the story and getting to know the characters when it ended. Was truly surprised when I ended up on the last page. I use a reader and hadn't been looking at the page numbers. Worth reading. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Audio book performed by Peter Francis James
3.5*** (rounded up to 4****)

In Achebe’s look at life in Nigeria before and after colonialism, Okonkwo is caught between the tribal traditions he has followed and by which he is deemed successful, and the white man’s laws and Christianity that are changing the face of his homeland. This is also a story of fathers and sons, and the disconnect between generations. There are several disturbing scenes in the book. Achebe paints a complete picture of tribal life – including the barbaric traditions, and difficulties of a living dependent on nature (a good hunt, a good crop).

Okonkwo never respected his father, whom he saw as weak and “womanly.” Instead Okonkwo worked hard to succeed, having a good farm, three wives, and children he loved. His greatest fear is that his oldest son, Nwoye, shows signs of being more like his grandfather than like Okonkwo – something that both distresses and angers Okonkwo. On the other hand, his daughter Ezinma is the apple of his eye; “she should have been a boy” he often thinks.

Okonkwo is stuck in a traditional past that is slowly but surely dying. His growing anger and frustration eventually get the better of him, leading to his exile from his home. When the Christian missionaries come to the village where he is in exile and begin to convert more and more villagers, Okonkwo thinks smugly that his fellow Ibo tribesmen in Umuofia would never stand for this and would run the white man out. He views his new neighbors as “womanly.” So it is with shock that he discovers, on his return to Umuofia, that the missionaries have greatly changed his village, and that his gods and traditions – the very beliefs that gave him strength to succeed against all odds – have been nearly abandoned.

This is a tragic tale of one man’s inability to recognize the strength of outside forces, and to change and adapt to them. It is also a cry against the callous disregard of the conquering forces for the traditions, strengths and culture of the conquered.

The narration by Peter Francis James is wonderful. He gives a quiet strength and gravity to the performance. His sonorous voice is perfect for this work. I usually round DOWN my ½ star reviews, but I gave this work the additional ½ star partly in response to James’s narration. The quality of his work deserved recognition; even though I think listening to this book vs. reading it, make it more difficult for me to appreciate. ( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Jan 27, 2016 |
A tragedy of colonialism and the reactions to it which doom its central characters. This is THE story of Africa and how it has suffered at the hands of arrogance and ethnocentrism. On a personal level, it is also the story of how an obsession with masculine strength can weaken us. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is a well written book and communicates well the clash of cultures. It was not a book that pulled me in and made me want to continue to read-probably because I knew things would "fall apart." ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)

Set in the late 19th century, at the height of the "Scramble" for African territories by the great European powers, Things Fall Apart tells the story of Okonkwo, a proud and highly respected Igbo from Umuofia, somewhere near the Lower Niger. Okonkwo's clan are farmers, their complex society a patriarchal, democratic one. Achebe suggests that village life has not changed substantially in generations.

The first part of a trilogy, Things Fall Apart was one of the first African novels to gain worldwide recognition: half a century on, it remains one of the great novels about the colonial era.
[Achebe] describes the many idyllic features of pre-Christian native life with poetry and humor. But his real achievement is his ability to see the strengths and weaknesses of his characters with a true novelist's compassion.

» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chinua Achebeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Appiah, Kwame AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bandele, BiyiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vertaalgroep Administratief Centrum BergeykTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

—W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
First words
Okonkwo was well-known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of eighteen he had brought honour to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat.
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
More than two million copies of Things Fall Apart have been sold in the United States since it was first published here in 1959. Worldwide, there are eight million copies in print in fifty different languages. This is Chinua Achebe's masterpiece and it is often compared to the great Greek tragedies, and currently sells more than one hundred thousand copies a year in the United States.
A simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger, Things Fall Apart is written with remarkable economy and subtle irony. Uniquely and richly African, at the same time it reveals Achebe's keen awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385474547, Paperback)

One of Chinua Achebe's many achievements in his acclaimed first novel, Things Fall Apart, is his relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence. His Ibo protagonist, Okonkwo, is a self-made man. The son of a charming ne'er-do-well, he has worked all his life to overcome his father's weakness and has arrived, finally, at great prosperity and even greater reputation among his fellows in the village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband to three wives and father to several children. He is also a man who exhibits flaws well-known in Greek tragedy:
Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father.
And yet Achebe manages to make this cruel man deeply sympathetic. He is fond of his eldest daughter, and also of Ikemefuna, a young boy sent from another village as compensation for the wrongful death of a young woman from Umuofia. He even begins to feel pride in his eldest son, in whom he has too often seen his own father. Unfortunately, a series of tragic events tests the mettle of this strong man, and it is his fear of weakness that ultimately undoes him.

Achebe does not introduce the theme of colonialism until the last 50 pages or so. By then, Okonkwo has lost everything and been driven into exile. And yet, within the traditions of his culture, he still has hope of redemption. The arrival of missionaries in Umuofia, however, followed by representatives of the colonial government, completely disrupts Ibo culture, and in the chasm between old ways and new, Okonkwo is lost forever. Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:52 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

[This book is] a simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger ... Uniquely ... African, at the same time it reveals [the author's] ... awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.-Back cover.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141023384, 0141186887

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