Chinua Achebe’s epoch-making novel, Things Fall Apart, was the first major work by an African writer that received immense fame worldwide. First published in 1958, Things Fall Apart announced the arrival of serious concerns on the table of intellectuals that often exhibited precious coffee jugs and mugs, usually, along with royal novels with flowery romantic stories and ‘higher love’. Things Fall Apart brought to the public attention the ‘bitter side’ of ‘cultural exchange’ that the British literature tried to portray otherwise. Chinua Achebe’s debut work still enjoys immense popularity among the readers across the world.
Story in a nutshell:
Achebe’s central concern in this novel is the loss of tradition, culture and a feeling of otherness among very owns. Okonkwo is the central character who is a brave warrior known for his skills. He has a happy family. He is the leader of his tribe in Umuofia. Okonkwo believes in the traditions of his ancestors and envisions himself as a guardian of the same. After an adverse crime by a person of another tribe that killed a person of Umuofia, Okonkwo is declared the guardian to boy Ikemefuna who is received as a peace settlement. Despite knowing that Ikemefuna is doomed to death in future, Okonkwo grows affection towards him. However, when the oracles announce death to Ikemefuna, in spite of warnings by elders, Okonkwo kills the boy. Life takes different turns after the murder of Ikemefuna and Okonkwo begins losing his fortune, power and family members. He is sent to 7 years exile after his firearm mistakenly shoots and kills one of the tribe’s member. Things get even worse in Umuofia when Okonkwo is in exile – the British missionaries begin spreading their religion. Authority of the Church and the British rule take no time in finding their roots strengthened in the African tribe. Upon return, Okonkwo tries his best to make people aware of the mishap happening with them but no use! The British missionaries brainwash almost the entire society and the Umuofia Okonkwo once knew is no more… A tragedy and Okonkwo suits himself to death by his own hands rather than being tried and punished by the colonial kingdom that he despised.
Unlike A Passage to India, that was written with a defensive narrative, Things Fall Apart capture the spirit of the colonised in a comprehensive and much better way. Chinua Achebe displayed a sign of great courage by writing the novel in English – the language of the intellectual, physical and commercial oppressors. He made sure that his message reaches to all the English speaking nations and it did. Things Fall Apart was successful in setting the trend for a free-spirited exploration of the true agenda of England that was bitten by the cobra with colonial venom. Other than exposing the true face of colonial England and its pervert ambition for more land and more people of secondary rank, Chinua Achebe also displays in his novel that a shaken foundation of faith can no longer hold the tree of civilisation. Umuofia falls. Oracles fall (which they did deserve, somehow), Okonkwo falls and so does poor Ikemefuna without any sin of his own. However, the novel also shows that redemption of sin is possible if a person truly tries to find it. In short, Things Fall Apart is successful in its agenda to unmask the true idea behind all that ‘educating the uneducated’ farce. More than that, it also offers a novel that is decorated with an emotional story, a stunning plot and a powerful narrative full of imagery of the highest possible rank. Unmissable!
I recommend this novel to the readers who want to read meaningful works that will let them have an idea of the real purpose of fiction writing. Novels like Things Fall Apart excel the mere idea of entertainment and reading pleasure. It has become a benchmark. So, if you want to be looked with respect to have read this novel, do read it. And, in the course of your reading, you will certainly become a fan of what you are doing! You can get a copy of this novel by clicking the link to Amazon below:
review by Amit for Indian Book Critics
Things Fall Apart
- Indian Book Critics' Rating
A must-read for the students of English literature… also a very super-read for contemporary readers, especially the youths, who read many novels usually in the romance genre. See what you find for yourself in this masterpiece by Achebe!