Monday, June 27, 2011
Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
As I'm nowhere near an authority on African literature (in fact, I'm what some might call pretty ignorant of the genre), I'll keep my thoughts here brief.
This book is a simple one, with no-frills prose and a distinct awareness that the story itself is powerful enough to hit home with readers. Achebe's English is beautiful, and I get the impression that this is definitely a wonderful gateway book into reading others from the African tradition (and trust me, some of them will certainly be added on to the endless list of Books I Must Read, though we'll see how soon I get to them).
The story was also one that allowed me to see anew all the struggles I'm sometimes too good at ignoring. I like to think I'm a pretty worldly person with an understanding that at the end of the day, my life is pretty sweet (I think a lot of us intellectuals cling to this notion), but this book resurrected some of that first-world guilt in me again. It was in a good way, though, I think, a way that puts things in perspective rather than causing me to revert back to my emo, angry-at-the-world days. For me the high point of reading Things Fall Apart was just getting a glimpse of characters whose concerns are so drastically different from the protagonists of 95% of the other books I've been reading, and indeed most of the people I encounter in real life.
If you're looking for a sobering, eloquent read that will stay with you long after the closing pages, then this book is definitely for you.