Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Things Fall Apart” as Want to Read:
Things Fall Apart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Things Fall Apart

(The African Trilogy #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  334,415 ratings  ·  16,938 reviews
Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive. His fame has spread like a bushfire in West Africa and he is one of the most powerful men of his clan.

But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone - even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okono
Paperback, Heinemann African Writers Series; Red Classics (UK), 197 pages
Published 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1958)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Things Fall Apart, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Virginia Pulver Joshua and Maaya - I read widely and well when I was young and frankly, now that I have had more life experience and education, I find those very same…moreJoshua and Maaya - I read widely and well when I was young and frankly, now that I have had more life experience and education, I find those very same books take on a new depth and power. Books that I simply rolled my eyes at have now become rich, insightful gifts. Persepctive certainly changes as one ages. Perhaps you will grow into this powerful fable about falling from grace. Keep reading, keep growing and enjoying good books. - Ginn, In Sunny SC (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  334,415 ratings  ·  16,938 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Things Fall Apart
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-lit
“The drums were still beating, persistent and unchanging. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement.” - Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

This is a book of many contrasts; colonialism and traditional culture, animism and Christianity, the masculine and the feminine, and the ignorant and the aware (although who is who depends on who
My son and I had a long talk about this novel the other day, after he finished reading it for an English class.

Over the course of the study unit, we had been talking about Chinua Achebe's fabulous juxtaposition of different layers of society, both within Okonkwo's tribe, and within the colonialist community. We had been reflecting on aspects of the tribe that we found hard to understand, being foreign and against certain human rights we take for granted, most notably parts of the strict hierarc
Jim Fonseca
[Edited 4/1/22]

Wiki calls the book the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Written in 1958, this is the classic African novel about how colonialism impacted and undermined traditional African culture. It’s set among the Igbo people of Nigeria (aka Ibos). A key phrase is found late in the book: “He [the white man] has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

The main character is a strong man, the village wrestling champion. He has three wives and
Sean Barrs
Achebe’s protagonist isn’t a very nice man. In reality he is an asshole. I don’t like him. I don’t think anyone really does. He is ruthless and unsympathetic to his fellow man. He grew up in a warrior’s culture; the only way to be successful was to be completely uncompromising and remorseless. His father was weak and worthless, according to him, so he approached life with an unshakable will to conquer it with his overbearing masculinity.

”When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was h
Will Byrnes
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this classic tale Okonkwo is a strong man in his village, and in his region of nine villages. At age 18 he beat the reigning wrestling champion and has been an industrious worker all his life, a reaction to his lazy, drunkard father. He lives his life within the cultural confines of his limited world, following the laws that govern his society, accepting the religious faith of his surroundings, acting on both, even when those actions would seem, to us in the modern west, an abomination. While ...more
I read this novel in an almost constant state of rage. First of all, I disliked the main character for his behavior. In our modern society his husband and parenting skills would be considered appalling. I know, I know, the guy was a member of an Nigerian tribe some time ago but the abuse of women and the psychological scarring of children does not sit well with me. Later, the Christian missionaries appeared and the rage scale went to the roof.

The novel is the story of Okonkwo and his tribe befo
J.G. Keely
The act of writing is strangely powerful, almost magical: to take ideas and put them into a lasting, physical form that can persist outside of the mind. For a culture without a written tradition, a libraries are not great structures of stone full of objects--instead, stories are curated within flesh, locked up in a cage of bone. To know the story, you must go to the storyteller. In order for that story to persist through time, it must be retold and rememorized by successive generations.

A book, s
Alok Mishra
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to attempt a balanced review of Things Fall Apart:

1. The book is serious. Themes and issues dealt in the book are far more serious than many other books written by the contemporary authors of Achebe.

2. The colonial abstract takes an altogether different turn as Achebe explores that colonisers not only colonised the land and properties but also the minds and hearts of the native people.

3. Racism has been dealt very aptly and also religious hypocrisy - different churches for the people who
I love classics.

Classics by any other name are "books that are good enough to stick around for a bajillion years."

I learn something. I feel smart. I have a good time.

In this particular case, I learned not just about the colonization of Africa and about missionaries and about Nigeria, but about people, about masculinity, about society.

It's awesome.

Bottom line: Project Reread Books I Half Read When They Were Assigned To Me rules.


some books are really classics for a reaso
Henry Avila
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okonkwo achieved success at an early age .. 18, the wrestling champ of his tribe the Ibo in colonial Nigeria, fame did not bring riches the hard work on his farm accomplished that . His lazy flute playing father Unoka embarrasses him, neglects his wives and children (the son Okonkwo determines never to be poor) dying with a vast amount of debts . He on the other hand becomes an important
man in the village marries three women, having numerous children, however times are changing a new religion
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 472 from 1001 books) - Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart is a novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Published in 1958. Its story chronicles the pre-colonial life in Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and is widely read and studied in English-speaking countries a
Barry Pierce
Y'know when you read a novel that is just so stark and bare and depraved that you know it's going to stay with you for a very long time? Yep, it's happened guys. It's happened. This novel ruined me. Ugh it's so great and so horrible. It's what Yeats would describe as a "terrible beauty". Read it, let it wreck you, and bathe in its importance. ...more
Elyse  Walters
I 'finally' read this book - the 50th Anniversary Edition- THANK YOU for the book Loretta!!! I'm sorry it took me so long to read it!!!!
Interesting timing for me, too, having just read "NW" by Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- and a couple of
James Baldwin books recently---plus, yesterday was Martin Luther King's day.
African identity, nationalism, decolonization, racism, sexism, competing cultural systems, languages -and dialogue, social political issues have been in my space!!

I didn't kn
Roy Lotz
In a word, I disliked this book. But before my criticisms I should start with some positives.

Achebe is a solid writer. As a result, Things Fall Apart is never painful to read—at least in terms of prose. And it must be said that there are occasional moments in this book which are very strong. Achebe has a talent for vignettes, and there are a few episodes in this book that are exciting, engaging, and stay with you.

Yet if Achebe is good at vignettes, he is a weak storyteller. This book hardly
4 Stars from what I remembered from reading this in high school
3 Stars from rereading it now

This book is a classic that is on a lot of required reading lists. I can understand that as it gives a fictional glimpse into the Westernization of Africa. A topic like this is very heavy, controversial, and important – because of this, a tale in this genre is going to have a big impact and will easily make its way to must read status.

When I read it in high school, I think I enjoyed it more than now becau
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-novels
A real tour de force; but a plain tale simply told. Achebe illustrates and explains rather than judges and provides a moving and very human story of change and disintegration. Set in Nigeria in the nineteenth century it tells the story of Okonkwo and his family and community. He is a man tied to his culture and tradition and fighting to be different to his father. He is strong and proud and unable to show his feelings. His courage and rashness get him into trouble with his community and traditio ...more
M.L. Rudolph
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1959. Love it or hate it, Achebe's tale of a flawed tribal patriarch is a powerful and important contribution to twentieth century literature.

Think back to 1959. Liberation from colonial masters had not yet swept the African continent when this book appeared, but the pressures were building. The US civil rights movement had not yet erupted, but the forces were in motion. Communism and capitalism were fighting a pitched battle for control of hearts and minds, for bodies and land, around the world
Emma Angeline
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni
One of the best things I’ve read for a long time
Maybe the best thing about Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, is that it give us a look at African culture from the inside, from their perspective, how they viewed the world around them and their place in it. Most of the African novels I've read give the outside view, the colonial or Christian view, which unfairly judges a people and a culture they couldn't possibly understand.

The story is set in the Nigerian village of Umuofia in the late 1800's. Since their culture is based on history and tradition,
Whitney Atkinson
I really enjoyed this book! It was the first book we read in my contemporary world literature class and it stirred some really good discussion. I'm all about any conversation in which I can discuss dismantling the patriarchy, and this book definitely dealt a lot with sexism, which is a topic I find infuriating yet interesting. The writing style was simple and quick to read, and although there wasn't an abundance of imagery, some of the similes/comparisons were really pretty! I thought this was a ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Achebe's classic is a quick and interesting read albeit with a depressingly realistic end. My curiosity will most likely lead me to more of his work and I enjoyed the narrative style. The ambiguities of cultural clash with an obvious misbalance of power and the two different kinda of brutality in the conflict were thought-provoking and painful to read because they were surely even worse in real life. ...more
Oh boy, where do I start? I read Things Fall Apart (the entire African Trilogy acutally) this year for Black History Month. So quite a bit of time has passed already and I am unhappy to report that the story hasn’t really left a lasting impression on me. I have forgotten many plot points and had to consult many secondary sources in order to write this review. I definitely want to reread Things Fall Apart when I am older, I think it’s one of those books that, to put it into Calvino’s words, “has ...more
Chinua Achebe’s archetypal 1958 novel about the cultural life in Nigeria before and after western colonization is a study in contrasting themes.

Coming from my 20th-21st century western perspective who considers Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness one of his favorite works and a template of western literature, I wanted to read Achebe’s work to see many of the same themes Conrad observed but from the native’s viewpoint.

Set in the fictional Nigerian village of Umuofia, Achebe’s protagonist, Okonkwo,
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1958
If you have been looking for a book condemning colonialism and toxic masculinity all in one go, look no more, because those are the two forces destroying the main character of ‘Things Fall Apart’; one from the outside, the other one from the inside.

I loved this book. Probably because I never had to read it at school, way before I would’ve been ready (full disclosure: I don’t think I was one of those really mature teenagers, smart-alecky sure, but not mature.) I don’t know what I was even doing
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wondered for a while why this book felt more like a fieldwork than a guided mind tour, but the answer is obvious. It lays in the fact that the novel has little of that character building I'm used from reading mainly Western literature. The surroundings are not put in the background to serve only as a reflection of one's thought process, but form an organism of its own. Here, in the middle of an African village on the verge of white people's arrival, the rhythm of living is dictated by weather, ...more
Valyssia Leigh
Tyrants attract greater tyrants. It's impossible for me to care about a bunch of self-aggrandizing assholes who sell their daughters and beat their wives. ...more
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.

The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.

If you don't like my story, write your own.
Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has the reputation of being the first great
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I found this a smooth, good read. Absorbing, well-paced, engrossing and not at all long--novella length. Sad to say, I don't as a rule expect good reads in those books upheld as modern classics, but this pulled me in. Someone who saw me reading it told me they found the style "Romper Room" and some reviews seem to echo that. I didn't feel that way. I'd call the style "spare"--which befits a writer who when asked which writers he admired and who influenced him named Hemingway along with Conrad an ...more
Rosie Arteaga
My favorite part was when it was over.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • In Our Bones
  • Heart of Darkness
  • Black Sunday
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Beloved (Beloved Trilogy, #1)
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Night Train to Lisbon
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Red War (Mitch Rapp, #17)
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1)
  • The Crucible
  • Invisible Man
  • Macbeth
  • Americanah
  • Nervous Conditions
  • The Things They Carried
  • The Color Purple
  • Death of a Salesman
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religion

Other books in the series

The African Trilogy (3 books)
  • No Longer at Ease (The African Trilogy, #2)
  • Arrow of God (The African Trilogy, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we receive correspondence from all over the planet, and every summer we hear from our friends in the...
29 likes · 10 comments
“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.” 412 likes
“There is no story that is not true, [...] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.” 271 likes
More quotes…