Synopsis: In the midst of the sheer ebullience that swaddles Umofia,a Nigerian village deeply entrenched into religion and tradition,things start falling apart,first for Okwonkwo,one of the leaders,and then,upon the arrival of the missionaries,for the village itself.
Why you should read Things Fall Apart:
1.The Vivid Language
While he chose the English language as the medium to narrate the flamboyant lives of the Igbo people,Achebe conveniently preserved the African dictums and imageries,so as to breathe an air of exoticism into the book.Also the author does not aim to translate everything in English; some words like ‘obi’ are left in their primal state.Thus,when reading Things Fall Apart,we discover a new colourful and enticing language that boldly spells Africa.
Despite the sheer number of imageries in the book and the seriousness of the plot,the language is strikingly simple. Achebe was naturally gifted and his silky prose is devoid of any imperfection.There is nothing seemingly inordinate in his narration,and,for this reason,the book proves to be a very compelling read.
3.Africa,a new world
Until late in the story,each chapter tells a day in Umofia.Achebe makes sure to paint an accurate picture of tribal Africa by shedding light onto the customs and beliefs of the Igbo people.They have their own society and live by a set of well-defined rules,just like us,as we see in ceremonies,trials,festivals or simply in any ordinary day.Each chapter thus is one of discovery.
Besides being a beautiful piece of work,Things Fall Apart is first of all a historical novel,written to inform people of what really happened in Africa,and,as such,is very effective.The sentiment of loss and damage evoked by the end is heightened because Achebe has subtly acquainted us with what is being damaged for the better part of the story.In fact the book is all the more poignant when put into a historical context.
5.An Important Read
Achebe surprisingly stays impartial throughout the story and leaves us the difficult task to make our own conclusion,for this book goes well beyond the question of the legibility of colonization in Africa.Moreover Things Fall Apart is an important read in the sense that it makes us see Africa in a different light;we all too often forget what the whole continent has gone through and tend to have an erroneous view of the countries through the media.
For all its beauty,the book is quite small; it has about 219 pages.You can therefore devour it in 1 or 2 days,depending on how fast a reader you are.Its small size also contributes to making it very intense.
Why you might not like in Things Fall Apart:
Maybe some readers might not like the slowness of this story;maybe they wanted to be thrust into the dramatic part rather earlier.Had this been so,the story would not have been as poignant as it is now.This different writing approach from Achebe is what makes him stand out,in my opinion.
Verdict: Unexpectedly Things Fall Apart turned out to be one of my favourite books.It is written in a gorgeous language and is very compelling,for the African culture is filled with many peculiarities that we keep on discovering as we progress through the story.Most importantly it draws our attention to what Africa has lost and makes us see how the inhabitants have fallen victims to their singular culture.It is a very poignant read that deserves to be read not only for the sheer beauty of Achebe’s writing,but also for the strong message it conveys.It also is a superb initiation to African literature!