Thursday, July 30, 2009
THINGS FALL APART BY CHINUA ACHEBE
I first encountered THINGS FALL PART on the IGCSE text list….I found this interesting because I had never heard of this book before….It wasn’t a book I’d ever run across in the United States but it is apparently well known and considered a classic in the UK.
After reading it, I would have to say that I consider this book more on a young adult, early college years reading level than as a mature work of fiction.
First, what I like about it is the methodical descriptions of day in day out tribal living….The books is ostensibly about the impact of colonial white man rules on the already orderly society of Nigerian tribal life….Part one wherein we are shown the daily life of the tribe in particular the main character Okonkwo with his strengths and also the flaws (particularly pride) that will trip him up later is written simply and clearly….The narrator keeps out of it and there are no value judgments delivered despite there being some barbaric practices described (such as leaving twin babies to die in the jungle as they are considered a bad omen).
Part two which introduces the destructive behavior of colonial British in particular missionaries is where the book bogs down(despite the very obvious quote from THE SECOND COMING by Yeats on the title page)….The connection the reader is supposed to make between how good life was before and how one way of life is destroyed by another way of life that is more aggressive and has no respect of African tribal customs is very sudden and not built up at all….It segues very very fast from the first section to the next….The hero being in exile for a period of time before does help build the construction of the narrative but there’s just not enough detail and everything is so sudden that the final result feels a bit incomplete.
This is one of the few books I’ve ever read that could have been benefited by being longer.
Still, this is a short concise read with a well-laid out description of a life that most people have never thought about….The author of THINGS FALL APART, Chinua Achebe(a Nigerian who lives and teaches in the USA), has written other books and I am interested enough to read them one day.