04 July 2010

5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I heard so many great things about this book that even as I collected significant evidence to the contrary I finished it anyway. Beware, a SPOILER lurks below:

The plot/setting: Okonkwo is a great warrior and leader in his small African village. He thinks everyone around him is soft, especially his son. Unfortunately for him, he accidentally kills someone on a high festival day and so must be exiled for seven years. In this seven year absence Christian missionaries come and ingratiate themselves to the villagers. When he returns Okonkwo realizes that things have changed too much, that things have fallen apart, that the old traditions and cultural rules are lost forever. So what does this fearless warrior do? He hangs himself from a tree behind his hut. Lame!

The story sucked. The writing was very average. I suspect (white) college undergraduates who feel bad about European colonialism in Africa and the slave trade have given this book way too much credit as a means of appeasing their pointless, guilty feelings.

2 comments:

Morgana said...

I had to read an excerpt for one of my college classes and I liked it so much I was going to try to full book. Guess not...

Redwing said...

Well, in small bits, in excerpts, the story could be interesting, but when you patch it all together in a novel it doesn't work. In this case the parts were bigger than the whole.

Read it anyway. Get it out from the library. It'll take you an afternoon to read the whole thing. It's pretty short.