Book Review: Things Fall Apart

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anachy is loosed upon the world.
 
W. B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’
After a second reading, Things Fall Apart has firmly cemented itself as one of my favorite books. The novel by Chinua Achebe is the first installment of the so called African Trilogy including No Longer At Ease and Arrow of God. The book explores the customs, rituals, and life of the Umuofia tribe through the lens and life of Okonkwo, a Igbo tribesman, (making up part of modern day Nigeria) leading up to the tribes encounter with European imperialism.
Chinua Achebe’s novel so aptly captures the collision of cultures as white Europeans set up a mission outpost in Umuofia by first bringing us into the live of Okonkwo. He is an ambitious man who has quickly risen to take his place among at the top of traditional Igbo society. In fact it’s only in the wanning pages of the book does Achebe introduce us to the missionaries who signal the beginning of imperialism in Nigeria. Okonkwo’s failure to adapt to the changes brought by the Europeans ultimately lead to his tragic downfall and the book’s conclusion.

 

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