Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which centre around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story is as modern as the first is ancient. It elevates the book to a tragic plane. This story concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytising European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonised, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Things Fall Apart is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.
“The drums were still beating, persistent and unchanging. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. It was like the pulsation of its heart. It throbbed in the air, in the sunshine, and even in the trees, and filled the village with excitement.”