Will Byrnes's Reviews > Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
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's review
Oct 05, 2008

really liked it

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 he may succeed and fail within the confines of his society’s laws, what he cannot do is adapt himself to the world when it goes through a dramatic transformation. In this case, his home town is revolutionized when white missionaries set up a base and bring along with them the firepower of western weapons. Unable to cope, unable to channel his justifiable rage into constructive actions, he is led inexorably to his doom.

Chinua Achebe - from the Salon article noted below

What is this book about? It is a simple tale. The details of Okonkwo’s experiences accumulate to give us a picture of his times, his culture, so we have a sense of what is at stake when change arrives. Is this a warning to us of our own inability to see beyond the confines of our culture? How will we cope with change when it comes, in whatever form?

I found it difficult keeping track of the characters. This is a case in which a diagram of a family tree would probably come in handy. Yet, ultimately, this is not so important. What matters is that we get a sense of Okonkowo‘s world. And the impact of the West arriving in an African society. This book is considered a classic,and for good reason.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

There is a wonderful video of John Green talking about the book. Must-see. In fact you could do worse than skipping the above review entirely and checking out Green's vid. And there is a second episode of his vid on the book as well. Have at it.

In 2013, Salon republished a wonderful 2010 essay, Chinua Achebe: The man who rediscovered Africa, on news of his passing.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
October 5, 2008 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King As ever Will, I came across your review by chance while looking at another friend's books.

Here we are in 2008 and I still like your reviews even then. I personally don't feel that reviews have to be too long as all they need to do is get the point across and inspire someone to purchase the book.

But there again, I contradict myself, as some of the longer views are excellent. Still I'm a woman and so I can change my mind!

Will Byrnes I am not all that pleased with most of my 2008 review.s I was just beginning with this. But I am pleased, anyway, that you liked it. At least it is an actual review and not just a list of quotes.

And I know that as a guy, I never contradict myself, well, maybe sometimes.

message 3: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King It is good to put in the odd quote though as it adds flavour, depth and context to a book I believe. Perhaps I'm just one of these simple souls though.

Thunder!I hope that the electricity doesn't go off. Can happen here even with France having nuclear energy and exporting electricity to Italy and the UK!

Will Byrnes I have reached a much better balance of applying quotes these days. when I was first on GR, I was using it mostly as a place where I could store quotes I liked from books.

'Tis a gift to be simple

Louise This book is on my re-read list.

message 6: by Margitte (new)

Margitte I almost want to thank you for reading African literature. Chinua Achebe is an excellent author to boot!

Will Byrnes I imagine that with the continual shrinking of the world more African authors will become known globally

message 8: by Lela (new) - added it

Lela As I read your review, I had the weirdest deja vu feeling. I think I read this somewhere along the way but I am not sure. Do you know any other book I could be confusing with this one? Nice, succinct but descriptive review!

Will Byrnes Dunno. Definitely check out the John Green vid. Things come together.

message 10: by Lela (new) - added it

Lela Will do

message 11: by Supratim (new) - added it

Supratim Great review, Will !!! I can relate to such a tale becuase many in my country have faced such a thing. I have to read this one.

message 12: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will Byrnes Thanks Supratim. Many have faced similar challenges, and. I expect, always will.

message 13: by Supratim (new) - added it

Supratim Yes, you are right.

Samantha Persaud So interesting

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