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Things Fall Apart (1958)

by Chinua Achebe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: African Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,436382213 (3.75)1 / 937
[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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» See also 937 mentions

English (367)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (3)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (382)
Showing 1-5 of 367 (next | show all)
Told in third person, mostly following a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior, Okonkwo, Things Fall Apart describes life in a pre-colonial village in Nigeria up until the early days of European colonization.

The later part of my childhood I grew up in the church. I would say probably between 7 years old to 15/16 years old, when I stopped going. But I remember the stories of missionaries going all over the world to save the souls of those who were lost and "know no better". Now that I'm older and haven't been to church in a long time, I'm slowly reading about the other side of all of that. This novel challenges the narrative about "savages" and how the White Christian Saviors needed to "civilize" ("westernize") them.

“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 things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Obierika to Okonkwo.

Even though it's told through the life of Okonkwo as he, his village, and the villages around him experience the change, this novel doesn't side with the colonized or the colonizers. It still gives both the good and the bad of both systems. There's even a part in the book where the leaders of the Igbo people tell the teachers of the white church that they have nothing against them - they don't agree with all of their practices, and they know the church doesn't agree with theirs. But they (the Igbo people) are fine with leaving them alone as long as they too are left alone. The book neither condemns nor praises the worldview of either.

This novel really gave me things to think about. I know a lot of history taught in schools is white washed, made to look like the white man is the savior to all, and that's why I'm glad books like this exist so I can read and learn about the other side of things. ( )
  oldandnewbooksmell | Sep 24, 2021 |
I finished this book within the six hours it takes a jumbo jet to fly from JFK to SF and simply could not put it down. Sure, this is not a sumptuous read: It's simple, straightforward, stripped to the bone. Achebe finds beauty in words that are plain and yet when strung together are quite ravishingly beautiful in their simplicity.

But that’s not really what kept me going. Things Fall Apart is so heartrendingly beautiful because of the full-throttle pump of its plot, the way that the ugly, unlikable protagonist Okonkwo learns to deal with the ways of the less pious, less traditional world, the innumerable motives and drives of each and every one of the supporting characters in their pursuit of their uncomplicated family life.

Perhaps the most beautiful passages occur when Achebe lets us gaze into Okonkwo’s deepest inner emotional core, into his un-poisoned, unadulterated sensitivity. One scene in the particular—when he follows his second wife into the forest in search of the priestess who kidnapped his favorite girl, Ezinma—touched me.

Read this now, please.
( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
Although this was an interesting book, I can't describe it as an enjoyable read. An important perspective, yes, and therefore worthy of being read, but not the sort of thing to curl up with in a chair for a cosy afternoon of reading. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Sep 12, 2021 |
This story follows Okonkwo a man who is leader in his village and is faced with challenges, most of his own doing. His actions are caused by a fall from grace in his village and the appearance of missionaries to his village. ( )
  foof2you | Sep 8, 2021 |
Ibo leader confronts Europeans and loses position, is executed for attack on govt. messenger
  ritaer | Aug 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 367 (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 (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Achebe, Chinuaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Appiah, Kwame AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bandele, BiyiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dicker, JaapTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dicker, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Okeke, UcheIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puigtobella, BernatTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodriguez, EdelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serraillier, IanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vertaalgroep Administratief Centrum BergeykTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werk, Jan Kees van deAfterwordsecondary 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.
There is no story that is not true.
The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.
If I hold her hand she says, Don't Touch!. If I hold her foot she says Don't Touch! But when I hold her waist-beads she pretends not to know.
A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.
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[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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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.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141023384, 0141186887


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