Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

Book - 1994
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"A true classic of world literature . . . A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world." --Barack Obama

Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read

Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe's critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa's cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man's futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political andreligious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.

With more than 20 million copies sold and translated into fifty-seven languages, Things Fall Apart provides one of the most illuminating and permanent monuments to African experience. Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village, he conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.

Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1994.
Edition: 1st Anchor Books ed.
ISBN: 9780385474542
0385474547
Branch Call Number: FICTION Achebe Chinua
Characteristics: 209 p. ;,21 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

List - Empathy for Teens
JCLBeckyC Dec 21, 2016

This cherished contemporary classic of Nigerian literature--and the first volume of Achebe's celebrated African Trilogy--tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the indivi... Read More »

Okonkwo’s fall from grace in his Kenyan community is echoed by the fall of his community to European imperialism. His resistance to both could be his ultimate undoing.

List - Literary Google Doodles
JCLSarahA May 02, 2018

Considered by many to be the father of modern African literature, Achebe was honored on what would have been his 87th birthday on Nov. 16, 2017.

Based in Nigeria, Africa, before and during the time of British colonialism, Achebe's protagonist is an old-school tribesman who creates family and success out of virtually nothing but who's faults ultimately undo him. A deceptively powerful read, this one often gets assigned for students in clas... Read More »


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t
TheBorgQueen
Aug 20, 2020

Things Fall Apart is a story about Okonkwo and how his village in Nigeria was impacted by the arrival of white people. Okonkwo’s father was a lazy person that left debts and eventually died in a shameful way, so Okonkwo tried to be the opposite of his father. Instead of being gentle and caring, Okonkwo was controlling and dominant to his family. Throughout the book, Oknokwo is seen being violent towards his wives and others. For example, he beat his youngest wife during the week of peace because she did not prepare food for her children and instead went to go braid hair with her friend. As the story progresses, the influence of the white missionaries start to become more prevalent. The people around Okonkwo became enamored with the changes the missionaries were making, even though Okonkwo did not see them as improvements.

I think this story is interesting. It depicts another culture that I did not have much exposure to before reading this story. I read this story in ninth grade, and I thought it was a pretty good book with a striking moral and meaning.

a
AaronAardvark1940
May 31, 2020

The protagonist is the quintessential self-made man. Rising from very humble beginnings, he is ascending to the highest status in his village. As I suspect is true in many cultures, he and his friends criticize the younger generation as soft and unwilling to work as hard as their elders. He worries about their spiritual strength and their fealty to the gods. The story explores his relationship with his children and with each of his wives. There is a profusion of African (Ibo) names and words, but not too many. I found the first part of this novel an interesting story of what their culture must have been in the latter part of the 19th century.
The second part of the book tells of the advent of colonialism. Although this was presaged somewhat in the first part of the novel, religious and governmental colonialism directly impinge upon the village and its people. It is not a spoiler to suggest that the title is a clue to what the second part of this book covers. We had intended this to be one of the books that I read to my wife, but she found some of the imagery too unpleasant. I liked the novel, as difficult as some of the images were.
An earlier reviewer criticized the book for “cultural relativism” and “cultural Marxism.” I confess that I had to Google the latter term, which seems to be a conspiracy theory about a plan to destroy Western culture. The society being discussed in this novel is one that we might characterize as savage. Ibo society had its own internal logic and one could tell in the first part of the book that it was a living culture, one that was evolving. European domination of that society through force of arms and by emphasizing divisions in the region, was every bit as savage as the society that the reviewer treated so dismissively. The destruction of Abame (read the book and note that this is only a fictional rendering of actual events) was by a European country as culturally advanced as the one that destroyed Lidice and was done for much the same reason. Is one somehow less evil than the other?

k
Kisa_Sohma
May 04, 2020

Downloaded as PDF

s
sgcf
Nov 18, 2019

Man Booker Prize winner Chinua Achebe’s authentic Nigerian story was written in 1958. In Part 1 I found it difficult to immerse myself into the stories about their traditional beliefs and values – possibly because they were at odds with my values, and possibly because there were so many African character names introduced. But in Part 2, when the missionaries arrive to impose their Christianity and government rules on the Nigerians, I felt shame (as a Caucasian) and regret that it caused their clans to devolve into chaos and infighting. One of my favourite books ever is Barbara Kingsolver’s "Poisonwood Bible" which deals with the same theme.

a
ahlquista86
Mar 27, 2019

A great example of cultural relativism, and subsequently cultural Marxism. There are objective wrongs in this world. And savagery is bad. This kind of thinking is why kids are being raped in South Africa, because they think it cures AIDs. The high value placed on this book is a sad example of the state of our country. And of course, anyone who speaks ill about this book is guilty of wrongthink.

e
Eeroomnhoj
Jan 05, 2019

Obama's List

j
jmreid1220
Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018

ArapahoeMaryA Aug 27, 2018

Achebe’s art and his criticism mark the beginning of African post-colonial literature. His work explores the exploitation and abuse of colonizing forces and the resulting loss of cultural identity of those being colonized.

h
humbleworm
Apr 26, 2018

The theme of clashing cultures here reminded me of the films Little Big Man (1970) and, to a lesser extent, The Last Emperor (1987). There's a sense of unfairness when the rules change around you. You might also enjoy Ishmael Beah's autobiographical book A Long Way Gone.

s
scribby
Apr 02, 2018

What begins as a folktale (“Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and beyond”) soon becomes a detailed description of life in a tribal society (not always benign, and sometimes extremely puzzling, such as the incident with the priestess at night). Perhaps the latter is intended as an evil omen of what is to come: parts two and three change this short novel into a tragedy in the classic sense: Okonkwo does exhibit one maddening character flaw that leads to his downfall. The tragic course of the novel begins suddenly and unexpectedly, and leads into a new direction (only suggested once before): what happens when well-meaning foreign missionaries are replaced by fundamentalists and colonialists. Yeats’ dire prophetic poem (the source of Achebe’s title, quoted in the introduction) comes true.

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Quotes

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ArapahoeMaryA Aug 27, 2018

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.

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

“Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

“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.”

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

“When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.”

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

“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.”

o
omdarbandi
May 25, 2014

"He [Okonkwo] had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists."

o
omdarbandi
May 25, 2014

"During the planting season Okonkwo worked daily on his farms from cock-crow until the chickens went to roost."

Summary

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h
hmatulek
Jun 04, 2018

Things Fall Apart tells the story of an Ibo (Igbo) man, Okonkwo, whose life in southern Nigeria is one of local fame and high standing. He has worked aggressively and tirelessly for everything he has- much unlike his father, whom he finds detestable. Despite his successes, some of his family members suffer in silent turmoil at the hands of their violent and volatile father. When European colonization comes to his village, the world where he grew up changes in an instant. Loyalty, exile, betrayal, and redemption all play a role in this globally-acclaimed modern African novel.

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

Okonkwo is a celebrated wrestling champion and a well-off member of Umuofia society. As the novel explores his background as well as his struggle against the spread of Christianity, the reader is transported to pre-colonial Africa.

o
omdarbandi
May 25, 2014

The main character of this book is Okonkwo, who work very hard but all the sudden, he would see a problem which he cannot deal with it.

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xzhang17
Jul 19, 2015

xzhang17 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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omdarbandi
May 25, 2014

omdarbandi thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

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