Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

9780141186887

Blurb: Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. (Goodreads.com) 

★★★★☆

I BACK!!!! this post signals the start of summer, extreme boredom, and buckets of time to do all my reading (essential and non!)

I just finished Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and this will only be a short review cos I am very tired and hot and bothered by this frankly GROSS weather we are having in London. Anyway, this book is basically the most pivotal African novel there is, and having read stuff recently by Chigozie Obioma and preceding my venture into Americanah by Chimamande Ngozie Adichie, I thought this book would be good context.

The book revolves around the warrior Okonkwo, and his struggles with the clan and his own violent and extreme machismo, leading him into trouble with his peers. But whilst the story is a journey of personal development for the protagonist, in the background is a cultural signpost of white missionaries and the spread of Christiantiy throughout Africa. Often seen as a saving grace brought to the countries of Africa by the Western, more sophisticated world, the book portrays the Christians not in a bad light, but in a way the reader comes to his/her own conclusion about it. Through the character of his protagonist, Achebe uses the singular case of Okonkwo to force his reader to think about the negative ideas surrounding white missionaries and the idea of the ‘white saviour’ came into my head as a modern parallel. Just as the white man invaded the African countries with his religion, this happens all too often in our modern society, with the rise of voluntourism also comes the increase of the view of Africans as underdeveloped third-worlders who can only live a successful and ‘developed’ life after they have been visited by the Westerners.

This book left me feeling indignant and angry, but also moved and educated – obviously all the things you want from a book !! Read this book if you are interested in Nigerian culture, tribal warfare, and the effects of the Western world on African countries.

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