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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


Thanks to Tom Lynn, Associate Professor of English at Penn State Berks, for this synopsis.

Chinua Achebe, whose novels are read around the world, was one of the eminent authors of late Twentieth Century global literatures. His powerful narratives, written in English yet incorporating the elements of his native Igbo culture’s oral tradition, command respect for their compelling portrayals of both modern and traditional African cultures, their challenge to global stereotypes concerning Africa, and their lucid prose.

Achebe’s best-known novel, Things Fall Apart, evokes traditional African village life as well as the European missionary and colonial forces that violently altered that way of life. This book’s timeless appeal derives in part from its representation of the colonial encounter from an authentic African perspective.

Another prominent Achebe contribution to the world of letters and world culture is his widely debated essay on Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” Achebe remarks on the blindness of many readers to the kinds racist stereotypes that Conrad incorporates into this famous tale and that have wrought such havoc for generations of people.

Nelson Mandela recalled that “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe . . . in whose company the prison walls fell down.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, like Achebe, of Igbo heritage, has paid homage to Achebe by incorporating into her own writing various elements of Achebe’s work, including most prominently in her short story, “The Headstrong Historian,” which extends Things Fall Apart partly through a feminist lens.

See also Africa Day 2023.

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Very interesting to hear about the African response to his work.

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