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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
18,692402209 (3.76)5 / 1001
[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.
  1. 205
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (jlelliott, bbudke)
    jlelliott: Each tells the story of Christian missionaries in Africa, one from the perspective of the missionaries, one from the perspective of the local people targeted for "salvation".
  2. 140
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (mrstreme)
  3. 195
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (SanctiSpiritus)
  4. 41
    Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (Rubbah)
  5. 41
    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (Osbaldistone)
  6. 42
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (Ellen_Elizabeth)
    Ellen_Elizabeth: Another classic, historical fiction novel that explores traditional culture through the story and of one man and his family. Both were written in English and illustrate the author's perceived strengths and weaknesses of the subject culture in a way that is accessible to western readers.… (more)
  7. 21
    The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka (libron)
    libron: Similar themes
  8. 10
    The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads' Town by Amos Tutuola (Cecrow)
  9. 11
    Living Memories: Kenya's Untold Stories by Al Kags (WorldreaderBCN)
  10. 00
    Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka (hazzabamboo)
  11. 01
    The Ghost of Sani Abacha by Chuma Nwokolo (WorldreaderBCN)
  12. 03
    In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (GaryBigfoot)
  13. 16
    The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (andomck)
    andomck: Both books are about colonization. One is from the perspective of colonizer, the other the colonized.
  14. 012
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (TuesdayNovember)
    TuesdayNovember: Both follow the fall of a callous man - one great, one not quite so.
1950s (4)
Africa (2)
Read (33)
To Read (340)
My TBR (2)

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English (381)  Spanish (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (400)
Showing 1-5 of 381 (next | show all)
This was an incredibly thought-provoking, straightforward, striking book to read, particularly as an MK emerging into adulthood. The final sentences are particularly powerful. As Achebe said, "writers don't give prescriptions. They give headaches!" This book is surely a prime example of that; the headache it's given me is still here and seems like it will be for a while. ( )
  graceandbenji | Sep 1, 2022 |
Banned in Nigeria and Malaysia for negative portrayal of colonialism.
  LMariaHG | Jul 17, 2022 |
It was a little slow in the beginning, all about Okonkwo and how stubborn he was. Near the end, though, it got interesting. The story focused less on Oknonkwo and more on the society as a whole. Some Christian missionaries come to the village and set up a ministry; Oknonkwo is militantly opposed. It was very interesting to me because it showed a mission in Africa from the perspective of the natives, something I had never seen before. Okonkwo is a very interesting character, and it would be fun to psychoanalyze him as you read the novel. ( )
  Michael_J | Jun 2, 2022 |
I read majority of this book in one long stretch, but had to put it down thrice — all three very defining moments for our protagonist Okonkwo — all three involving a kind of violence that the greatest warrior of Umuofia, the man so used to beheadings and wars, was yet unacquainted with. The single greatest achievement of the writing is that it hides nothing, and yet I felt compelled to weep with the downfall of Okonkwo and his chi. There aren't any surprises in the story itself, every character's arc is throughly consistent with what you'd expect in a tragedy. The narration is superior and fresh for me, predominantly because this book is my (shamefully late) introduction to African colonial narratives. Even though English probably would not do justice to the poetic and proverbial languages which are referred to in the book, the author has definitely managed to bring it out in the text. ( )
  Toshi_P | May 6, 2022 |
This is an interesting and powerful short novel about the chief of an African tribe and the growing tensions between him and the white colonialists who have arrived in his country. It’s one of those books that crept up on my slowly. At first it’s a rich, unflinching depiction of rural African life in the 1950s. As it progresses it becomes gripping and at times almost horrifying. It’s frequently compared to Greek tragedies, and it isn’t hard to see why. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 381 (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 (62 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
James, Peter FrancisNarratorsecondary 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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Average: (3.76)
0.5 8
1 88
1.5 12
2 281
2.5 38
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4 1464
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141023384, 0141186887


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