Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

First line: Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond.

I had to grit my teeth to get through this book. (All 209 pages.)

I'm ashamed to admit this since a surprising number of folks online and in person have cited this novella as one of their favorite books, but I found everything about this brief read to be agonizing -- the plot, the narrative style, the characters -- it and I just did not connect.

I went in expecting to love this book given its reputation and subject matter. Achebe depicts the story of a Nigeria broken by white colonialism; our hero is deeply flawed and stubbornly committed, living in a world with problems triply complicated by the unnecessary influence of white colonizers. Achebe's narrative style is straight-forward and clear, even as he articulates a world deeply foreign to modern audiences.

I suspect I didn't understand this book; I'm also not a huge fan of tragedies (I loathe Hamlet) so Okonkwo as a character didn't grab me. His pride and values, even if admirable in context of his place and time, rubbed me the wrong way, and I just couldn't find anything to hold onto to anchor me in the story. For those of you who loved it -- help me out!

He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.

Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / Nigeria / Post-Colonial / Ibo / Masculine Identity)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin Books (5/2/2017)
Source: My public library


  1. It's so hard when you want to love a book and you don't.

  2. Yeah, I decided a while ago that I wasn't going to ever read this book. From all I've heard, I think I'd intensely hate the gender stuff, and there are a lot of awesome things in this world that I can read that do not appear to hate me. So.

    (Honestly, giving myself permission not to read books that are yuck about women has been so freeing and magical.)