This short novel tells the story of Okonkwo,a traditional African farmer-warrior of the Ibo people of Nigeria. The story describes life in Ibo villages shortly before and during colonization by the British in the early part of the 20th century. The narrator's language is direct and simple, and the story is told as if to an audience comprised of people who share and understand Okonkwo's culture and history, with something of the cadence of a fable or a fairy tale. Okonkwo is proud, capable, and admired by his community for his strength and industry. Yet, he is deeply afraid of failure and of appearing weak, and his fear and inflexibility ultimately cause Okonkwo to have terrible difficulty adjusting to change. This famous African novel explores how both Okonkwo and his people handle the blessings and tragedies they face in both old and new ways. I found it memorable, but without the depth and layering that I prefer in my favorite fiction.
This book didn't do much for me. I never connected to the characters or the events in the village. It read more like a cultural study than a novel based on three-dimensional characters. The last chapter was the best as Achebe reveals the way outsiders view the tribe as opposed to how they view themselves. I've heard great things about it from other people. Overall, not my style.
A beautifully woven story of strength and tradition painted in the colors of Africa, this book was truly touching. It is the story of a "strong man" living a life of simplicity in a small tribal village. I truly enjoyed the descriptions of their ceremonies and religious traditions. It was very eye-opening as it tells a familiar story from an unfamiliar point of view. Simply written and an "easy" read that really makes you think! A must-read!
I spent a good chunk of this book wondering if there was more to it than a retelling of how this Nigerian village and its people went through their days. But when it all comes into focus, be prepared for anger and tears.
It was really difficult dealing with the names and keeping track of the people, but somewhat interestin story of a Nigerian village and the Ibo people. Things Fall Apart tells a story of a typical village and what happened to it after the missionaries came and began to destroy their cultures and lives.
I have been told that Chinua Achebe's African Trilogy constitutes The Great African Novel. I can't and won't speak for that high praise. However, having read the first in the series, Things Fall Apart, I can state that I believe Mr. Achebe HAS succeeded in illustrating how times (with a big push from the colonial powers) altered tribal living in at least one part of Africa.
Articles and books have been written analyzing this work; I won't presume to add my analysis on top of those scholarly works. I WILL state that I was impressed by Mr. Achebe's narration; how he described events within and around the community without making it sound like he was explaining them to an outsider. He would casually mention something that OF COURSE we would all know about, like The Royal Python. Then, in the same breath, describe it and its significance in such a way that it felt as though it was just a continuation of the story rather than a sidebar explanation for us poor outsiders.
As someone who normally reads mysteries and thrillers, I can't say that Mr. Achebe grabbed me by the throat (or otherwise) and refused to let go. HOWEVER, he did succeed in holding my interest; something that many other highly praised works of literature fail to do. We all know of and sometimes ourselves feel like a man like Okonkwo, comfortable in the knowledge of how things were and how they still are, until facing the truth that those ways are changing, perhaps forever. It is because of that commonality that this novel can touch anyone, no matter their country or circumstances.
5 stars, Mr. Achebe. I only wish I'd gotten to this a few months earlier, so that you could have celebrated this rating with us before your passing.
This is a very Sophomore English book - suffering in South Africa. It's told in the style of oral history, with the local dialect mixed in for color and a shifting central character, though all the characters are members of the same clan. The subject/style isn't entirely to my taste, both because I'm generally peeved by the mixing in of foreign words in a novel, whether or not there is a glossary of terms available in the back [which there is in this case], and because I really did read books of this genre all through Sophomore year. The white man takes over with his church/government/ideals, the locals fight back in a vainglorious attempt at preserving their sacred way of life. A couple of characters die tragically, mirroring the death of a culture, crushed on the wheel of progress.
This book has a couple of poignant moments, but it's difficult, as the whitest white white person ever to white whitely, to really empathize with a culture when some of the biggest scenes in the book are things that from my cultural perspective are "barbaric", i.e. killing a kinsman without due process, ritualized human sacrifice, etc. Still, the main character is well developed and I did feel bad for him at the close of the novel.
Achebe's story is very simple but beautifully powerful and I enjoyed learning about the Ibo's culture and religious beliefs. At the heart of the story is also the struggle of Okonkwo to become the best that he can be and his trials and tribulations. All in all, the book is an easy read with a great message.
Although this is a difficult read (because of all of the African dialect, vocabulary, jargon, etc.), it was well worth it... It's so different from a lot of other things you'll read because of the setting (both place and time period). I enjoyed the twists and turns, especially Achebe's take on "the invasion of the white man" (British colonization of the area). It was moving to see how much of a fatal flaw pride really can be. This is a must read if you plan to take the new SAT or study literature.
Amazing symbolic work set in a small village in Africa, dealing with fear and anger, and how it impacts one's life. Excellent story wbout how the "white man" coming to tribal life led to the end of traditional life.
A thoroughly enjoyable and moving story, first of the everyday life of an African village, then of the clash between cultures when Christian missionaries bring their new faith. The musical lilt and sly humor of the writing remind me of the Alexander McCall Smith books.
Interesting novel describing the culture of an African village around the turn of the 20th century. In the first part of the novel, the local culture is shown to be complex and untouched by European influences. Then the English Christian missionaries arrive and "things begin to fall apart." The novel is basically an indictment of British colonialism and portrays a vivid picture of how colonialism wiped out native culture. Orwell's Burmese Days is another novel portraying the negative effects of colonialism. I would recommend both.
Although this little gem didn't immediately capture my imagination, it was only a few chapters until I was eagerly devouring Okonkwo's life story. This book is elegantly and beautifully written. Don't miss it.
Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece. In direct, almost fable-like prose, it depicts the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity and are appeasing the British administrators who infiltrate their village.
Great book - not my usual type of read, but I really liked it. Gives a glimpse into tribal life/mentality - power structure, numerous gods that the clans worship, etc. How the white man integrated himself into the villages, converted tribesman and caused dissension among a previously unified clan.
Back cover: "A simple story of a "strong man" whose life is dominated by fear and anger... 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."
I read this book because it was on my bookshelf and it appears on several "must-read" lists i have. This is a cool story that offers insight into pre-modern African culture, and also some perspective on how western influences of the 20th century affected their society. It is sad to read yet another story of the western white man coming in with supposedly superior religion and culture and imposing it on the native peoples in the name of progress and "salvation". The characters are especially interesting in that we see how very much alike they are to us "moderns", even though on the surface they seem so different. I'm glad i read this, but i feel that much of its acclaim probably has as much to do with when it was written as with its content. I see that it may have influenced Barbara Kingsolver in her Poisonwood Bible, which is a much better book, IMO.
This book is mandatory reading for second year HS students so thought I'd read it and see what it's all about!
Though a good summary of Nigerian culture, a mish-mash of folk tales and stories of the main family's life left us wondering what the point of the book was. Last section tells of arrival of white missionaries and their attempts to dwell alongside the traditional tribesmen while trying to convert their kin. The book ends unexpectedly and the only point seems to be that the whites should never have come to try to take over from the natives. Really? Roots is a much better novel..........