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Things Fall Apart pdf by Chinua Achebe is the debut novel by one of Nigeria’s prolific  authors- Chinua Achebe, first published in 1958. It depicts pre-colonial life in the southeastern part of Nigeria and the invasion by Europeans during the late 19th century. This novel is one of the early African novels to receive international recognition and is used in schools across Africa and in English speaking countries around the world. It is hailed as the most widely read book in African literature and has sold more than 20 million copies in more than 50 languages.  In this article you will be able to freely download Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe pdf , read it online as well as do the following:

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Summary of Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart is a 1958 English-language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. The novel depicts the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umuofia—one of a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo people .Okonkwo is a wealthy and respected member of the Umuofia clan of the Ibo people of Nigeria in the late 1800s. Okonkwo seems to have everything: he has broken away from the weakness and disgrace of his father and is now a successful farmer with three wives and a position of leadership in his community. However, Okonkwo has difficulty controlling his temper, and one outburst of violence leads to his family’s banishment from their village for seven years. But that’s only the beginning of things falling apart for Okonkwo. While he’s away from his village, Christian missionaries from Europe arrive, bringing their own ideas about religion and life to the Ibo people. When Okonkwo finally returns, will his village be a place he can recognize, or will the missionaries have imposed on it a new culture beyond his understanding? Special Considerations: Possible sensitive issues in Things Fall Apart include violence, adult themes, and racism. The novel’s protagonist, Okonkwo, is famous in the villages of Umuofia for being a wrestling champion, defeating a wrestler nicknamed “Amalinze The Cat” (because he never lands on his back). Okonkwo is strong, hard-working, and strives to show no weakness. He wants to dispel his father Unoka’s tainted legacy of unpaid debts, a neglected wife and children, and cowardice at the sight of blood. Okonkwo works to build his wealth entirely on his own, as Unoka died a shameful death and left many unpaid debts. He is also obsessed with his masculinity, and any slight compromise to this is swiftly destroyed. As a result, he often beats his wives and children, and is unkind to his neighbours. However, his drive to escape the legacy of his father leads him to be wealthy, courageous, and powerful among the people of his village. He is a leader of his village, having attained a position in his society for which he has striven all his life.

About the Author Things Fall Apart pdf- Chinualumogu Albert Achebe

Born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) was considered his magnum opus, and is the most widely read book in modern African literature. Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in South-Eastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a “language of colonisers”, in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as “a thoroughgoing racist”; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy.

When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.

A titled Igbo chieftain himself, Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies 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. From 2009 until his death, he served as David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown.

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things fall apart by Chinua achebe pdf
Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Major characters in Things Fall Apart pdf by Chinua Achebe

Okonkwo is the major character and protagonist of the novel, Things Fall Apart. He is physically strong with great strength in his character. Throughout the novel, he strives very hard to shed the inherited laziness to assert his manliness. Okonkwo exudes masculinity, ruthlessness, and violence from the very start of his life. He believes his father was a coward. He has three wives and ten children. He adopts a tragic flaw of his father that is to go against the community and its norms. He proves his strength by killing Ikemefuna and by resisting the arrival of the white civilization. He fails to perceive the threat of this modern civilization that has impacted the Umuofians. Although Okonkwo has achieved personal and social success, he doesn’t change with time. He goes into exile for murder after killing Ezeudu’s son accidentally. When he returns, he finds that most people in the village has embraced the white civilization and converted into Christianity. He fiercely opposes the kills one of the English messengers and is filled with guilt. He is also surprised at the tribe’s reaction which is of complete apathy and silence. To avoid being judged by a white man, he commits suicide. Thus all his glory and pride comes to an end.

The eldest son of Okonkwo, Nwoye, resembles his grandfather. He always struggles hard to come out of the powerful image of his father and fails to be tough. When Ikemefuna is brought home, he takes him as an older brother. Despite his best efforts to adopt masculine habits and values, he stays conflictual in his mind though he succeeds in winning approval of Okonkwo sometimes. When he sees his father assassinating Ikemefuna, he begins to hate his masculinity and courage. He finally joins the English forces of civilization when the mission returns to Mbanta. He again becomes optimistic and feels relieved after getting out of his father’s oppressive rule and takes the name Isaac and betrays his father one last time.

Ezinma is Okonkwo’s favorite daughter, an only child from his second wife, Ekwefi. She is braver than her mother and also fearless. So, Okonkwo often wishes her to be a boy instead of a girl on account of her boldness and courage. Not only does she win his appraisal but also wins his respect. She understands that postponing marriage may bring back her father’s lost glory and social status after the exile ends.

Ikemefuna becomes the adopted son of Okonkwo after Mbaino clan hands him over to Okonkwo for a murder. Boy’s manners win Okonkwo’s heart to whom he calls his father but also becomes a brother figure to Nwoye and other family members. Although Okonkwo has shown particular interest in the boy, he kills him with his machete when the decisive moment comes to prove his masculinity.

Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, has never been honestly a strong man was known for his cowardice and profligacy. He would spend his time singing and dreaming. He also falls in massive debts as he continually borrows from other clansmen. Unoka earns shame for Okonkwo from which he has to come out through the assertion of masculinity. On the other hand, he is also an artist by nature and a very talented musician. His idleness and constant borrowing have made him a misfit in the highly patriarchal culture. That is why Okonkwo does not relate himself to his father.

Obierika comes to limelight in the novel while helping Okonkwo, who needed financial help when he goes into exile, and Obierika jumps to help Okonkwo. However, he is also a born skeptic who questions Okonkwo’s execution of Ikemefuna and playing with the conventional tribal wisdom. The social pressure, however, does not let him point out the cultural problems that he sees.

Mr. Brown
A representative of the white civilization, Mr. Brown visits Umuofia to preach Christianity. Unlike others, he is kind and understanding. He hates violence, and he also helps them build a school and a local hospital. Mr. Brown understands the value of survival and respects the local system instead of berating it. That is why he proves successful in changing the local social fabric.

Reverend James Smith 
James Smith shows the dark face of the bright civilization that is coming to the African continent. He is quite the opposite of Mr. Brown, a very harsh and strict preacher. He asks his converts to berate their past beliefs and embrace new ones wholeheartedly. James is a representative of colonialism and provokes the locals by suspending a local woman from the church for showing her reverence to the local tradition. That is why he invites the wrath of the locals at his church though he escapes unscathed.

A very pacifist and compromising, Uchendu is the maternal uncle of Okonkwo who welcomes him when they travel to Mbanta. He gives a helping hand to Okonkwo in understanding the new land and new social fabric where he has to spend his exile. It seems that Achebe has presented him as opposed to Okonkwo who is not only hotheaded but also very impulsive in his actions. Uchendu’s flexibility does not impact Okonkwo who suffers in the end.

The District Commissioner 
A condescending and haughty, the District Commissioner is another representative of the western civilization through his strong administration. As a shrewd administrator, he uses his knowledge of the native land to manage the locals. He also embodies a reductive attitude toward races.

Excerpt from things fall apart by Chinua Achebe pdf

Copyright © 1994 by Chinua Achebe

Chapter One

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 honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat. Amalinze was the great wrestler who for seven years was unbeaten, from Umuofia to Mbaino. He was called the Cat because his back would never touch the earth. It was this man that Okonkwo threw in a fight which the old men agreed was one of the fiercest since the founder of their town engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights. The drums beat and the flutes sang and the spectators held their breath. Amalinze was a wily craftsman, but Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water. Every nerve and every muscle stood out on their arms, on their backs and their thighs, and one almost heard them stretching to breaking point. In the end, Okonkwo threw the Cat.

That was many years ago, twenty years or more, and during this time Okonkwo’s fame had grown like a bush-fire in the harmattan. He was tall and huge, and his bushy eyebrows and wide nose gave him a very severe look. He breathed heavily, and it was said that, when he slept, his wives and children in their houses could hear him breathe. When he walked, his heels hardly touched the ground and he seemed to walk on springs, as if he was going to pounce on somebody. And he did pounce on people quite often. He had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists. He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had had no patience with his father. Unoka, for that was his father’s name, had died ten years ago. In his day he was lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow. If any money came his way, and it seldom did, he immediately bought gourds of palm-wine, called round his neighbors and made merry. He always said that whenever he saw a dead man’s mouth he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one’s lifetime. Unoka was, of course, a debtor, and he owed every neighbor some money, from a few cowries to quite substantial amounts.

He was tall but very thin and had a slight stoop. He wore a haggard and mournful look except when he was drinking or playing on his flute. He was very good on his flute, and his happiest moments were the two or three moons after the harvest when the village musicians brought down their instruments, hung above the fireplace. Unoka would play with them, his face beaming with blessedness and peace. Sometimes another village would ask Unoka’s band and their dancing egwugwu to come and stay with them and teach them their tunes. They would go to such hosts for as long as three or four markets, making music and feasting. Unoka loved the good fare and the good fellowship, and he loved this season of the year, when the rains had stopped and the sun rose every morning with dazzling beauty. And it was not too hot either, because the cold and dry harmattan wind was blowing down from the north. Some years the harmattan was very severe and a dense haze hung on the atmosphere. Old men and children would then sit round log fires, warming their bodies. Unoka loved it all, and he loved the first kites that returned with the dry season, and the children who sang songs of welcome to them. He would remember his own childhood, how he had often wandered around looking for a kite sailing leisurely against the blue sky. As soon as he found one he would sing with his whole being, welcoming it back from its long, long journey, and asking it if it had brought home any lengths of cloth. That was years ago, when he was young. Unoka, the grown-up, was a failure. He was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat. People laughed at him because he was a loafer, and they swore never to lend him any more money because he never paid back. But Unoka was such a man that he always succeeded in borrowing more, and piling up his debts.

One day a neighbor called Okoye came in to see him. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute. He immediately rose and shook hands with Okoye, who then unrolled the goatskin which he carried under his arm, and sat down. Unoka went into an inner room and soon returned with a small wooden disc containing a kola nut, some alligator pepper and a lump of white chalk. “I have kola,” he announced when he sat down, and passed the disc over to his guest.

“Thank you. He who brings kola brings life. But I think you ought to break it,” replied Okoye, passing back the disc. “No, it is for you, I think,” and they argued like this for a few moments before Unoka accepted the honor of breaking the kola. Okoye, meanwhile, took the lump of chalk, drew some lines on the floor, and then painted his big toe. As he broke the kola, Unoka prayed to their ancestors for life and health, and for protection against their enemies. When they had eaten they talked about many things: about the heavy rains which were drowning the yams, about the next ancestral feast and about the impending war with the village of Mbaino. Unoka was never happy when it came to wars. He was in fact a coward and could not bear the sight of blood. And so he changed the subject and talked about music, and his face beamed. He could hear in his mind’s ear the blood-stirring and intricate rhythms of the ekwe and the udu and the ogene, and he could hear his own flute weaving in and out of them, decorating them with a colorful and plaintive tune. The total effect was gay and brisk, but if one picked out the flute as it went up and down and then broke up into short snatches, one saw that there was sorrow and grief there. Okoye was also a musician. He played on the ogene. But he was not a failure like Unoka. He had a large barn full of yams and he had three wives. And now he was going to take the Idemili title, the third highest in the land. It was a very expensive ceremony and he was gathering all his resources together. That was in fact the reason why he had come to see Unoka. He cleared his throat and began:

“Thank you for the kola. You may have heard of the title I intend to take shortly.”
Having spoken plainly so far, Okoye said the next half a dozen sentences in proverbs. Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. Okoye was a great talker and he spoke for a long time, skirting round the subject and then hitting it finally. In short, he was asking Unoka to return the two hundred cowries he had borrowed from him more than two years before. As soon as Unoka understood what his friend was driving at, he burst out laughing. He laughed loud and long and his voice rang out clear as the ogene, and tears stood in his eyes. His visitor was amazed, and sat speechless. At the end, Unoka was able to give an answer between fresh outbursts of mirth.

“Look at that wall,” he said, pointing at the far wall of his hut, which was rubbed with red earth so that it shone. “Look at those lines of chalk;” and Okoye saw groups of short perpendicular lines drawn in chalk. There were five groups, and the smallest group had ten lines. Unoka had a sense of the dramatic and so he allowed a pause, in which he took a pinch of snuff and sneezed noisily, and then he continued: “Each group there represents a debt to someone, and each stroke is one hundred cowries. You see, I owe that man a thousand cowries. But he has not come to wake me up in the morning for it. I shall pay, you, but not today. Our elders say that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. I shall pay my big debts first.” And he took another pinch of snuff, as if that was paying the big debts first. Okoye rolled his goatskin and departed.

When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavily in debt. Any wonder then that his son Okonkwo was ashamed of him? Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father. Okonkwo was clearly cut out for great things. He was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams, and had just married his third wife. To crown it all he had taken two titles and had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars. And so although Okonkwo was still young, he was already one of the greatest men of his time. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands and so he ate with kings and elders. And that was how he came to look after the doomed lad who was sacrificed to the village of Umuofia by their neighbors to avoid war and bloodshed. The ill-fated lad was called Ikemefuna.

Chapter Two

Okonkwo had just blown out the palm-oil lamp and stretched himself on his bamboo bed when he heard the ogene of the town crier piercing the still night air. Gome, gome, gome, gome, boomed the hollow metal. Then the crier gave his message, and at the end of it beat his instrument again. And this was the message. Every man of Umuofia was asked to gather at the market place tomorrow morning. Okonkwo wondered what was amiss, for he knew certainly that something was amiss. He had discerned a clear overtone of tragedy in the crier’s voice, and even now he could still hear it as it grew dimmer and dimmer in the distance. The night was very quiet. It was always quiet except on moonlight nights. Darkness held a vague terror for these people, even the bravest among them. Children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits. Dangerous animals became even more sinister and uncanny in the dark. A snake was never called by its name at night, because it would hear. It was called a string. And so on this particular night as the crier’s voice was gradually swallowed up in the distance, silence returned to the world, a vibrant silence made more intense by the universal trill of a million million forest insects.

On a moonlight night it would be different. The happy voices of children playing in open fields would then be heard. And perhaps those not so young would be playing in pairs in less open places, and old men and women would remember their youth. As the Ibo say: “When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.” But this particular night was dark and silent. And in all the nine villages of Umuofia a town crier with his ogene asked every man to be present tomorrow morning. Okonkwo on his bamboo bed tried to figure out the nature of the emergency–war with a neighboring clan? That seemed the most likely reason, and he was not afraid of war. He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood. In Umuofia’s latest war he was the first to bring home a human head. That was his fifth head; and he was not an old man yet. On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank his palm-wine from his first human head.

In the morning the market place was full. There must have been about ten thousand men there, all talking in low voices. At last Ogbuefi Ezeugo stood up in the midst of them and bellowed four times, “Umuofia kwenu”, and on each occasion he faced a different direction and seemed to push the air with a clenched fist. And ten thousand men answered “Yaal” each time. Then there was perfect silence. Ogbuefi Ezeugo was a powerful orator and was always chosen to speak on such occasions. He moved his hand over his white head and stroked his white beard. He then adjusted his cloth, which was passed under his right arm-pit and tied above his left shoulder.

“Umuofia kwenu”, he bellowed a fifth time, and the crowd yelled in answer. And then suddenly like one possessed he shot out his left hand and pointed in the direction of Mbaino, and said through gleaming white teeth firmly clenched: “Those sons of wild animals have dared to murder a daughter of Umuofia.” He threw his head down and gnashed his teeth, and allowed a murmur of suppressed anger to sweep the crowd. When he began again, the anger on his face was gone and in its place a sort of smile hovered, more terrible and more sinister than the anger. And in a clear unemotional voice he told Umuofia how their daughter had gone to market at Mbaino and had been killed. That woman, said Ezeugo, was the wife of Ogbuefi Udo, and he pointed to a man who sat near him with a bowed head. The crowd then shouted with anger and thirst for blood. Many others spoke, and at the end it was decided to follow the normal course of action. An ultimatum was immediately dispatched to Mbaino asking them to choose between war on the one hand, and on the other the offer of a young man and a virgin as compensation.

Umuofia was feared by all its neighbors. It was powerful in war and in magic, and its priests and medicine men were feared in all the surrounding country. Its most potent war-medicine was as old as the clan itself. Nobody knew how old. But on one point there was general agreement–the active principle in that medicine had been an old woman with one leg. In fact, the medicine itself was called agadi-nwayi, or old woman. It had its shrine in the centre of Umuofia, in a cleared spot. And if anybody was so foolhardy as to pass by the shrine after dusk he was sure to see the old woman hopping about.

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Editorial reviews on things fall apart


Things Fall Apart is about a Nigerian man, Okonkwo, who watches as his village is destroyed by European missionaries. Once a feared and respected man in his village of Umuofia, Okonkwo is reduced to eventually taking the orders of white men. Okonkwo is a hard and emotionless man who believes that anything that is not masculine is weak and therefore unworthy. When missionaries come to Umuofia, Okonkwo urges his fellow villagers to resist the attempts to diminish their culture and replace their government, but he’s met with little support. Eventually, Okonkwo is banned, and when he returns, his village has completely changed.

I liked Things Fall Apart because it’s a great book that challenged the idea of African savagery and portrays African culture, specifically Nigerian culture, as complex and intricate, and not the ‘uncivilized’ society many people view Africans as today. Okonkwo is an interesting character because his unwillingness to adapt to the new change represents an internal struggle many pre-colonized Africans faced in the wake of colonization. The ending is symbolic because it represents the ultimate death of culture as a result of European exploration.

Overall, the novel provides a beautiful insight into another culture often ignored in mainstream media. Reviewer’s Name: Nneoma

“Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar “Me, white brother” genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo’s gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. This book sings with the terrible slence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor”_ Kirkus reviews.

Reviews on things fall apart by chinua Achebe pdf from customers on Amazon

S. Ward

5.0 out of 5 stars In this English professor’s all-time top five

Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2016. Verified Purchase

One of the best books I’ve ever read, in my top five of all time, and I’m an English professor, so you know I’ve done some reading. I believe I read it in a matter of two or three hours the first time because I was desperate to know what was going to happen to Okonkwo and his kin with the invasion of European colonization. Do not be put off by what you may have heard about the violence and/or cruelty; there are a few parts where the content is a little rough, but the unflinching lack of sentimentalism – the matter-of-fact tone – makes the events tolerable. I teach a lot of folks who are older teens/early twenties, and honestly, I don’t think this is a book that should be taught in high school or at the undergrad level because I think it actually helps to have some life behind you when you read it for the first time. If I knew in advance (which I never do) that I was going to have a class full of people over thirty, I would use it in a class without question. I would also say it’s a must-read for men because of its powerful depictions of the conflicts between fathers, sons, and just male kinship relationships in general. Achebe also gives great insight into two strong powerful female characters, his second wife and one of his daughters, even though they have a minimal amount of page time.

Brandon Scott Pilcher
4.0 out of 5 stars A more engaging critique of European imperialism than Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”

Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2019. Verified Purchase

The first thing I ever read by Chinua Achebe was his harsh review of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, which I enjoyed since I myself found Conrad’s book boring, pretentious, and offensive. That inspired me to check out Achebe’s own novel “Things Fall Apart”, which critiques European imperialism in Africa from a Nigerian Igbo perspective. And you have to admit, if you’re going to read a critique of imperialist activity, the best perspective to investigate is that of the victims’.

Admittedly, the first half of the novel does read more like an ethnographic account of daily Igbo life in the precolonial period than a conventionally structured novel. I still found it a fascinating and informative window into their culture, and it is nonetheless essential in characterizing the protagonist Okonkwo as well as demonstrating the damage that the British invasion of Nigeria will inflict in the second half of the book. To appreciate how things are going to fall apart for the Igbo community here, you need to understand what it was that would be broken in the first place. If there was one aspect of the novel that I did not enjoy as much as the rest, it was that Okonkwo was a bit hard to like due to his sexist prejudice and the way he would beat his wives and children as punishment. He’s not a one-dimensional brute for sure, and the book explains early on that he developed his attitude to avoid resembling a father he viewed as cowardly and impotent. Still, it might be rather upsetting for readers who have experienced domestic violence or abuse.

5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively simple story-telling portrays postcolonial angst and fosters bicultural family chats!

Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2019. Verified Purchase

This is not so much a review of the book as it is a brief commentary of its personal and broader relevance. As a Nigerian-American, I can honestly say that Things Fall Apart is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I read it in secondary school in Nigeria 30 years ago and most of it was lost on me because we were forced to read, memorize, and regurgitate its contents to pass exams. We did not have much have a chance to extract and discuss the WEALTH of knowledge that Chinua Achebe unfurls in this book. Fast-forward to last week in the US when something kept telling me to order another copy (I’ve lived in a few countries, including Nigeria, and always feel compelled to buy this book anywhere I live but never find time to read it). So, I ordered yet another hard copy and then saw Amazon’s Kindle deal while the first copy was in transit in the post. It was a no-brainer — the Kindle version would solve my traveling woes! Moreover, I devoured it in 3 days! Then I discussed certain passages with my parents whose grandparents would have been Okonkwo’s peers and this precipitated priceless family discussions, taking my parents back to their respective childhoods.

Having been born in the US, I can count the number of times that we’ve tried to have similar discussions that ended up falling flat. I believe my re-reading of Achebe’s book, plus my mother’s grand decision to transplant me from the US and enroll me in a Nigerian secondary school decades ago, FINALLY helped us share and construct parts of our family’s historical story’s center that had never really had the chance to come together — not to talk of fall apart. The novel also elicited compassion from me that gets buried (far) beneath the frustration at present-day Nigeria, which I’ve recently lived in and visit often. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe describes this functional society — sure, without the technological advances of iron horses and Western education — but functional enough to maintain law and order, as well as family and community (kinship) structures. My parents say that they remember some of those days and now I understand the heartbreak and ambivalence they must feel when they look at Nigeria today.

I also finished the book with more compassion towards pre-colonial worshippers of traditional or cultural gods. Achebe cleverly shows that it wasn’t much different from Christianity other than the multiplicity of mediator gods and the exclusion of certain groups and the sad, unfortunate mistreatment of twins. (My parents have a family friend who was an only child because his mother had given birth to FOUR sets of twins — all of whom were you-know-what). As a Christian, I can easily rattle off the vast differences but sometimes it’s helpful to look at similarities, so you can understand where people are coming from and why they see things the way they do, and therefore do the things they do. The Igbos were just one ethnic groups in Nigeria that had to make decisions and adjustments to literally abandon who they were. Never mind how many other groups had to do the same across the entire country and continent!

Finally, I was struck by how certain elements of this 60 year-old novel foreshadows aspects of present-day Nigeria. In particular, the part about the colonial government messengers and 250 cowries had me howling out loud! Obviously, I don’t want to give it away, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this aspect after you’ve read the book!

While I understand Chimamanda Adichie’s warning not to heed to the narrative of a single story, Things Fall Apart is one story that I am proud to say represents an aspect of my heritage superbly. Achebe should have won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature because of the understanding Things Fall Apart presumably fostered between colonized peoples and their colonizers, between colonized people in general, and between people around the world in a much broader sense — and still does. In short: I simply adore this book and hope you do, too!

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