Tuesday, May 13, 2008

50BC08 #9: Things Fall Apart

50BC08 #9: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Year: 1959 (Anchor Books, 50th Anniversary Edition)
Genre: Fiction, African Literature
Pages: 209
Other: Part of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list

This is an extraordinary book in its ability to narrate both a story of cultural dissonance and an overarching tale about the human condition. Achebe's novel broaches the subject of morality, but demonstrates that even the concept of "evil" is subject to a cultural interpretive context.

Okonkwo, the book's tragic hero, is an emblem of tradition, but also represents how tradition can be subject to the inner turmoil of the human soul. While the Ibo people must face the threat of European missionaries, Okonkwo must confront the threat of his own misplaced hubris. Achebe is a sympathetic voice, but is unafraid to reveal the flaws of his characters as a commentary upon our own imperfect existence.

This is probably one of the best introductions to African fiction, precisely because the story does not limit itself to the African context. The author's investigation of tragedy is pragmatic, yet emotionally stimulating without being romanticized. It is a book that will help the western reader more easily understand not only Nigerian tribal culture, but the power of ideas and their institutions.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 50


Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I've had this one sitting on my bookshelf for years. I feel so guilty when I look at it because I've never gotten around to reading it. Perhaps I should add this to my African reading challenge this year. Thanks for the review!

Rebecca said...

I'm excited to hear about your African Reading Challenge! I've had Achebe's Arrow of God sitting on my shelf forever...and No Longer at Ease definitely needs a re-read from me...maybe I should join your challenge! Thanks for reading!