Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Published: In 1994 by Anchor

My Rating: 1.5 stars
Tags: Adult | Africa | Historical Fiction | Tribes
Includes: Violence, Difficult Vocab/African terms

First Lines: 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.

[Description from Amazon because as hard as I tried to come up with my own synopsis, I couldn't since I barely understood the book...] The novel chronicles the life of Okonkwo, the leader of an Igbo (Ibo) community, from the events leading up to his banishment from the community for accidentally killing a clansman, through the seven years of his exile, to his return. The novel addresses the problem of the intrusion in the 1890s of white missionaries and colonial government into tribal Igbo society. It describes the simultaneous disintegration of its protagonist Okonkwo and of his village. The novel was praised for its intelligent and realistic treatment of tribal beliefs and of psychological disintegration coincident with social unraveling.

I hated this book. The end. Sigh, we were dreadfully forced to read this book in my English class. There were three parts to the story, and the only semi-decent section was part two where it finally started to pick up. There were so many things wrong with this book, and I don't mean to be a downer but as much as I tried to enjoy the reading, I simply couldn't.

Just after the first chapter, I already was confused with what was going on. There are so many characters introduced, and they all have foreign names that are difficult to pronounce. Also, the author includes so many African words that half the time I had no idea what he was referring to. It was hard to grasp the concept and plot of this book; the title didn't even make any sense to me up until the last chapter. Achebe's writing is confusing and bland; I didn't get to know the main characters that well at all, and he failed to include details in the story.

I did, though, like the short folktales that the author weaved into the book. They all seemed to fit along with the current situation that the characters were facing - and taught little lessons. There were many inspiring proverbs included in the story, too. Also, it was interesting learning about African tribal culture back then and their beliefs.

I seriously have no idea why this book was included in my English class reading list/curriculum. I didn't get anything out of it, and was so thankful when I finally finished reading it. Such a waste of time and not to mention had a horrible ending. Again, I don't mean to sound really negative about this book - I'm just stating my honest feelings about it!

Book Supplied by: Teacher, to read for my English class.


  1. that's because you're not the target audience for the book. the book was mainly writing for nigerians. unless you have a firm nigerian background, the cultural symbolisms and metaphors would be lost to you.

  2. Exactly my point - which is why I don't understand why my English class had to read it.

    1. seriously..a more intrestin book would hv done

  3. I'll admit to not really remembering this book but we read it for English too and I didn't dislkike it...then, we were in a combined English & History class...

  4. In my opinion, this was a very interesting, thought provoking book! I enjoyed even more the second time when I analyzed it for a class assignment. My particular interest was the final chapter, and Achebe’s comparisons between the Europeans and Africans.

  5. I've never heard of this book but it's always good to pick up new titles. You never know when someone will ask you for a book recommendation on a certain topic!

    Even though this book wasn't for you, I appreciate you sharing because maybe it will work out for someone I come across. :D (I'm a librarian)

  6. I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this book. It was required reading for one of my undergrad literature classes and I absolutely loved it. It probably helps that I happen to enjoy books in translation, or ones that explore different cultures.

    But something I appreciate as a writer and reader is that after the colonials come, the narrator refers to the date as "Sunday" rather than a "market day" or whatever the other terms were. It's a subtle but powerful move to show how even the narrator was affected by the cultural upheaval.

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  9. I was doing some research and it was mentioned several times that the audience was the white people because it tells the story of the disintegration that occurs when the white man occurs. The book's speaker (I think) is one of the tribe members and the Nigerian terms are used to add the authenticity that the book needs. If the book was told from an outside source who was unaware of tribal customs, the book's plot would have been much different. The title "things fall apart" is an allusion from inside the book of the customs disintegrating from the white man's arrival.

  10. the words are simple the story is simple but the questions that the author leaves for the audience is complex.How our cultures are changing and why.is it really for good or bad that these changes happen.The book also provides a colorful account of African tribal life.

  11. Where did you find this information?


Thanks, I love what you have to say!