26 CLASSICS: Things Fall Apart Review #7

Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Genre: Classics

Blurb: 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.

Me: An incredibly beautiful, honest novel that is more than anything, so important for everyone to read. 

The Ups: The novel is set in Nigeria in two villages of the Igbo tribe around the turn of the 19th century. So, if that says anything to you, the world and setting of this book is completely unfamiliar to me, and probably quite a lot of other readers as well. Achebe does a fantastic job in depicting and bringing the setting to life as an aspect of the story, but also keeping the plot line moving. It's important to note that this book was written as a historical fiction novel published in 1958, so it has a lot of commendable qualities as a historical fiction. 

I absolutely love the character development. Surprisingly I did not get bogged down with the unfamiliar names; I didn't get confused as the book went on. Okonkwo is a man who has built himself up to earn his place and yet he is so afraid of losing his position that he builds up his life around fear. Of course, fate has it that he is banished from his village for an accident, and he must learn to cope with the changing ways of the world. 
Okonkwo resists change. When white missionaries enter, he does everything to go against them. I think that the book was written in an impartial tone, or maybe even favorable towards Okonkwo. He is not portrayed as radical. But his decisions do have consequences. 

I think this book is crucial to read for a number of reasons, but the overlying reason is that it is so unique. I have only read two books that were set in Africa. This is the first novel I've read that is set in pre-colonial Africa. Both novels were set in Nigeria, and I understand that that it is in no way an accurate representation of all of Africa. But the important thing is that this is a story the world should strive to understand. Literature should open up new perspectives. Finally, a classic not written by a white European man. 

Also, we should know what European colonialism did for civilians in Africa...and what their lives looked like before. Good or bad, colonialism was incredibly impactful, and it ruined customs, split up families, and disrupted a way of life. 

Overall: Such an important story of a man's development in pre-colonial Nigeria, and what happens after the missionaries arrive. A must-read. 

Rating: 5 kisses! 

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