Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I’ve struggled with this review. I’m torn. There’s the academic side of my brain saying ‘you know why this book is important’ and the fluffy part of my brain saying ‘yeah but the story wasn’t good enough.’
This book is on my reading list for the ‘Post Colonial Literatures’ module which starts next week, so it was a case of ‘read this or look like an idiot in class’.
What did I like?
- Okwonko’s daughter – She could have held the story on her own. I was far more interested in her character than any other. The potential for a kick ass chick right there.
- Setting – There’s no getting away from the environment. Achebe puts you right into the thick of it, unapologetic about using local terms and language, and at times it was alienating. But it worked to great effect.
- Yams – Man alive. I want a yam.
What didn’t work for me?
- Structure – This book seems to move from scene to scene without the dots being connected. At one point the main character’s daughter is taken off by the priestess, to a cave, and the worried parents follow, and then the daughter is brought back… and nothing more is said on the matter. Say what? I need to know what happened to her!
- Proverbs – Too many. I was lost.
- Yams – Maybe this book should be retitled – ‘Yam Farming in Post Colonial Africa’?
I seriously respect this book. It’s renowned for a reason. And although I can see its point, it took too long to get there. For me, the best moments came far too late, and I think you could have easily cut the first two thirds and still understand what was happening.
An important book. But as far as creative skill and crafting goes, I find it lacking.
I gave Things Fall Apart a 2:2. (2/5 on goodreads) I feel like perhaps something is lost in translation, or that maybe it’s a victim of modernisation, and simply not as ground-breaking as I was led to believe. It was easy though, and I didn’t have any issues with motivation to read it. I just wish it had been elongated, or elaborated.
This book needs to be bigger! Bigger, in this case, is better.