Things Fall Apart, Paperback
4 out of 5 (7 ratings)


A compelling story of one man's battle to protect his community against the forces of change, the Penguin Classics edition of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is introduced by Biyi Bandele.

Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire.

But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart.

Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village.

With his world thrown radically off-balance, he can only hurtle towards tragedy.

First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe's stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages.

This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe's landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.

Chinua Achebe (b. 1930) was raised in the large village of Ogidi in Eastern Nigeria, and graduated from University College, Ibadan. The author of more than twenty books - novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry - Achebe received numerous honours from around the world, including honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities.

He was also the recipient of Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.

In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.

He died in 2013. If you enjoyed Things Fall Apart, you might like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, also available in Penguin Classics. "A great book, that bespeaks a great, brave, kind, human spirit". (John Updike). "His courage and generosity are made manifest in the work". (Toni Morrison). "The writer in whose company the prison walls fell down". (Nelson Mandela).




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Showing 1 - 5 of 7 reviews.

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Review by

This is often described as the first English language African novel, but this book is much more of a traditional fable than a western style novel. That's not to disparage it, but I went into it expecting a novel, and was a bit disappointed. Much better to view it as a piece of authentic African storytelling in a simple style.

Review by

A novel about West Africa and about the corrosive effects of colonialism, but above all a novel about the decline and fall of one man, Okonkwo. A classic story of a young man with a feckless father who makes something of his life by force of will and hard work, and yet his impatience and obsessive drive is also his downfall.The book is entirely non-polemical, a cool description of parallel destructions: a man and an entire civilisation. Not only that, but also a fascinating and detailed look at Igbo society, and all in one hundred and fifty pages. If I hadn't also read <i>God of Small Things</i> this month this would have been my favourite read of 2007.

Review by

Why did I wait so long to read this book? This is a detached yet compassionate record of a tragedy, the destruction of the tribal way of life viewed from the perspective of the warrior Okonkwo, for whom compromise is unmanly. Achebe's spare style doesn't waste a word.

Review by

I found this pretty hard to get into. The prose was stark and dispassionate, and although I found it interesting I felt no connection to the characters or involvement in the book. However, as the book progressed I became more involved. The personalities and history became more compelling, and the interactions between cultures horrifyingly gripping in an impending-train-crash kind of way. Very powerful.

Review by

Not an easy book to read, because of the alien culture and background to the story. I had to read it twice, to make sense of it and get sufficient depth to appreciate the book.

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