Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive and one of the most powerful men of his clan. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone - even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man's dangerous pride eventually destroy him?
©1959 Chinua Achebe (P)1997 Recorded Books LLC
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
Refracted through the earlier work of Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness - to which Achebe took notable exception and the later and altogether wonderful 'Half of a Yellow Sun' (2006) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I've been looking forward to reading Things Fall Apart for some time and am happy to report that it considerably exceeded expectations. Though written in the English, the early part of the novel explores in detail the demographics, geography and culture of the Igbo people, albeit through nine fictional tribes, with an authenticity and sure touch that is impossible not to enjoy and, indeed empathise with. Through the layers of this society - from their agriculture, through the interpersonal relationships to their socialised religion and individual root beliefs, a vivid and engaging picture is painted of a perfectly fleshed out cast of characters. This transcends anything that was ever on Conrad's agenda - though I would not necessarily agree that it is altogether correct to volley criticism at Conrad for this since his was a broadside aimed squarely at the Belgian Conquistadors - and is definitely the precursor to Adichie's modus operandi when portraying the Biafra of the 1960's. Being first is simply not enough, however, and to assert that this is the best, one has to look at the quality of the vision - best illustrated by the depth of understanding both of the Igbo people and the wider audience with whom Achebe engages. The simple illustration of Achebe's mastery is contained in the innumerable epigrams that seem to litter page after page much to my enjoyment - 'behind the smoke, you can easily glimpse the flames,' 'the man who makes trouble for others, makes trouble for himself' and on and on... In summary, this is a great book from a great writer and a great man.
Prof of Global Health & Development - wide interests, fiction & non-, politics, justice & rights, culture & food, travel, art & creativity
Excellent decades-old book offering insights into colonial penetration of Africa and how Christianity took hold. Insights also into local cultures, social mores and how communities were organised and structured to maintain a degree of peace and harmony and how traditional and modern worlds collided. An enjoyable and interesting African classic!
Despite being well read, a Nigerian narrator would have added value to the recording.
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
I find this book amazing because it is (almost) a first hand account of humans living in close to a stone age culture. Chinua Achebe was born into a Nigerian village in 1930 and, luckily for us, was brought up bilingual English. He set his novel end of 19th century - so based on characters and cultures that he knew first hand or via relatives. It is the sort of time relationship Margaret Mitchell had with the US civil war when she wrote Gone With the Wind. And here we have a culture without: writing or books, any idea of what is going on in the rest of the world, no school, no industry/specialisation, very little metal, very few institutions, and none above clan level: very little institutionalised religion, no banks, judicial system, standing armies, politicians, it is all very DIY, and in a sense meritocratic (you make your own way, on merit and luck; you are judged by your peers). It is also interesting what they do have: numbers - at least up to 400 (would that be 20x20, based on digits of a man?), and basic money (cowrie shells), including debt, women and children traded and beaten like dogs, a permanent, direct, personal relationship with spirits and gods, who aren't much help against a horrific mortality rate (especially for children under 6), even when placated by regular sacrifices of goat and chicken, and the occasional young man. As you would expect, a strong senses of 'what is right', but also very recognisable sets of emotions and behaviours - ideas of what is polite and what is crass, and emotional intelligence that is very recognisable. You are grown up at 15, and old at 45.
I dislike 'historical novels' such as Downton Abbey, or Cold Mountain, because they are fake (however well researched). I always feel the women say things like 'Gosh, I bet after the second world war women will be able to go into any profession they like,' with unreal prescience, but here when characters express their fears or hopes it feels authentic. Achebe is not imagining these people, they were his Uncles and Aunts.
A quick read (some problem recognising all those Igbo names, in Audio) and very highly recommended as an experience much deeper than a long haul holiday.
Initially a difficult book to listen to because of the African names. Would have been easier to visualise them.
Story well written and tells the tragedy of African colonialism. Well worth reading
Great story, beautifully told and vividly described.
I'd just have preferred a narrator able to give a more authentic sounding voice to the characters... The audiobook of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche was a great example of a story about Nigerian people, with tastefully done, real sounding characters. Not this grave sounding American accent for the main man in the story...
Simply written and powerful. The genius if this book is in its reincarnating of pre colonial life for you to experience in time for it to be stolen away. whats more it does this without saccharine characterisation. The main protagonist is a flawed human being in a culture which had harsh aspects. But it was theirs and it was stolen by those who had little understanding and no right.
I watched the TV show as a child, Okonkwo acted by Pete Edochie . But at that time , I think my mind was too young to understand or grasp the concept .
So I decided to read the book as an adult .
It was a very enjoyable read . It did go dull at some points , but the high points made up for those .
I loved the style of humour , any one raised by African parents will be able to relate with a lot of it and you will find yourself laughing at the personal memories they arouse .
"Took a While But..."
I had a very hard time getting into this book but once it caught, about 1/3 through, I was hooked. It is very simplistic writing which through me at first. But the style grew on me and the sheer conservation of words pierced me with the truths that come through every sentence.
Yes, I highly, highly recommend this book.
"Art of story telling at its best"
Loved it! Captures the richness in igbo culture and some of the influences of missionaries
"Wrong narrator for this book"
No, definitely not this audio edition. The African American narrator was good but his intonation was off. He could not provide the right atmosphere and as a result detracted from the entire story line. I am Nigerian and would have preferred a Nigerian or African author who could put the "soul" into the story. I could not get past the first chapter and I am totally disappointed. Please understand it is not the accent but the intonation that's key.
I read this book years ago and was mesmerized. Now I have to purchase the print version to regain that feeling.
I have been unable to complete the first chapter of the audio book.
His intonation was a definite mismatch.
I did not get that far.
Please re-record this book with an appropriate author
"Ready or Not, Things Can Fall Apart"
Sacrifice, Obedience, Life
Ezinma was a character who, in this setting, stood out as different. Her mother treated her equally; her father treated her as his favorite. She is a central figure in the changes occuring within the structure of this story. Ikemufuna is also interesting within this story.
The marriage was interesting. The missionaries entering into the area and onto the land where this tribe had been existing for many years.
Yes, and I would do it again.
This interpretation ranks near the top of the titles I have listened to.
1984. A must-read 20th century classic must-read.
I listened to it in several sittings and while walking and driving.
"Very well read"
This novel would not be my first choice of novels, but I had no choice, it was an assignment. That being said, the story was very well performed, and it helped me with getting past all the difficult names. Now I will not be afraid to read the actual print version of the novel, and I will at least have some idea what the story is about. I recommend this read if you are interested in African cultures.
"Not to my taste"
I was recommended this book by a book club where everyone thought it was a great work of fiction. I am not so sure of this. I think the current fad for African fiction has lead us astray somewhat.
NARRATOR – The narrator does a good job of rendering this story. He has appropriate inflections and his accent is a good one for reading. He does not bring the story to life as a great narrator does, but he moves it along and allows the story to unfold on it’s own. I don’t mind this (see my reviews for Roy Dotrice) with a story that interests me. I felt that a better narrator could have made this a much more enjoyable experience.
STORY – I understand that stories of foreign cultures undergoing change appeals to many people. For me I find the premise interesting but the promise is often lacking. This for me is true with this book. I just could not get into it. I found the characters underwhelming and the story telling a bit of a bore.
My own preferences are showing in this review. This story was simply not to my taste.
"I wish I could get a refund!"
Apparently, the purpose of the book was to show that African culture was not "primitive" before the British arrived. This book not only failed to do so, but in fact affirmed that the culture was previously extremely primitive. As an engineer, the fact that they never questioned things that were so obviously incorrect was beyond irritating. The narrator was also about as boring and slow as could be. He leaves a long pause every time he sees a comma, period, or just plain feels like it. It may not sound too bad but it makes for a miserable listening experience. Don't waste your money on this book.
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