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Things Fall Apart: A Novel
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2005
Okonkwo epitomized a die-hard African traditionalist with a firm conviction in the destiny of his people, yet a man who failed to accept the inevitable changes in his world. Things fall apart exposes us to the culture of the Ibo people of Nigeria and brings out the characters to the understandable to the reader. In our own little ways, we are like Okonkwo, caught in a world where we have little influence. The lesson is that No matter how powerful we are, we should not impose our wills on others, especially a will that reflects our egos and not the interest of humanity. Clash of cultures is what this book tells us about. Just as in THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, OLD MAN AND THE MEDAL,TRIPLE AGENT DOUBLE CROSS,NO LONGER AT EASE,one gets a better idea of what Africans and other native peoples went through after being left with no choice but to accept the values and laws of the foreign powers that came into their lives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
An excellently written novel that shows a way of life that I otherwise would have been very ignorant of. I hope to read more like this in the future. I couldn't put it down and read it in 3 sittings. Achebe is a genius at giving the tribal perspective yet somehow delicately showing it's flaws, while at the same time showing the European missionaries in a similar light. This balance in perspective was, I think, perfect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2007
Native of Nigeria, Africa, Chinua Achebe wrote his own masterpiece fictional novel entitled "Things Fall Apart," which took place in his own country during the 19th century. Achebe has used his own background of an African village to create an interesting story that gives unique perspective of the African life and culture. The book is broken into three parts which describe the main character, Okonkwo, and the lifestyle in his village, the arrival of the missionaries and their actions toward the villagers, and the last year of Okonkwo's life.

The first part of "Things Fall Apart" expresses the lifestyle of the African culture in the village of Umuofia where the main character, Okonkwo, had lived. This first part consists of thirteen chapters that reveal the life in Umuofia, the wives and children of Okonkwo, the life and death of Ikemefuna, and the beginning of Okonkwo's exile. The second part of this book focuses on the life of the exile in Mbanta, the village of Okonkwo's mother. It consists of six chapters which reveal Okonkwo and his family living with his mother's kinsmen in Mbanta, the visits from Obierika, the arrival of the missionaries, the conversion of Okonkwo's son, Nwoye, and the last year of Okonkwo's exile. The final part of the novel expresses the actions of the missionaries, the return of Okonkwo to Umuofia, and the death of Okonkwo. It consists of six chapters that reveal Okonkwo's attempts to urge the villagers to fight against the missionaries after his return, Mr. James' attempt to change the belief of the villagers, and a certain death of the villager.

There is great deal of symbolism and meanings being expressed from this unique novel, and it also expresses a fascinating perspective about African life and the impact of cultural imperialism in "Things Fall Apart."

The novel is quite enjoyable to read and gives one a food for thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2000
About a month ago I was assigned to read a book from a suggested reading list in my Lit. & Comp. course. Last Thursday I decided I should probably start looking for a book to read. Since "Things Fall Apart" was readily available, free, and short I decided to go for it. Starting out I thought it was pretty drab and boring. Talking about customs and rituals in some African tribe. "Who cares?" I thought. Slowly as I got deeper into the novel I was beginning to realize something. Achebe put all the tribal information in the beginning to prove something. He proved that we as WASPs aren't always right. The fact that we went into a foriegn country and automatically decided that what we knew was right and everything else is wrong emits the strongest sense of ego possible. Achebe tries to prove that Europeans destroyed much of this planets culture with Onkonkwo and his struggle with life. Okonkwo tried and tried to become the best by achieving all four of his lands titles only to be squashed in the end by a bunch of hypocritical Christians. Americans view themselves as knowing what's right for everyone. None of them see the other point of view. A person knows what's right for them; so let them make their own decision
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2005
Okonkwo epitomized a die-hard African traditionalist with a firm conviction in the destiny of his people, yet a man who failed to accept the inevitable changes in his world. Things fall apart exposes us to the culture of the Ibo people of Nigeria and brings out the characters to the understandable to the reader. In our own little ways, we are like Okonkwo, caught in a world where we have little influence. The lesson is that No matter how powerful we are, we should not impose our wills on others, especially a will that reflects our egos and not the interest of humanity. Clash of cultures is what this book tells us about. Just like in The Usurper and Other Stories.
Also recommended: The Usurper and Other Stories, Mission to kala, The Old man and the Medal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2006
This was one of the first books in African literature that I read and I was not disappointed. It is amazing. The larger than life character of Okonkwo is reduced to disillusioned man because he could not adapt to the changing times. The big lesson is that we should never attempt to have control of everything beyond ourselves.DISGRACE, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE are fine and hilarious books to read.
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on November 17, 2014
Read this for an English class and found it quite enjoyable and, at times, profound. The tragically flawed protagonist and diverse array of cultures makes it somewhat hard to follow and keep attached, but you need to think of the narrative as a door to a world that, necessarily and purposely, rejects the modern realities you may have grown accustom to. There are parts of the story, especially near the end, where I feel like the novel tries to pull a Huxley but takes a Joycian approach in that it tells you very little; however, I found myself working most of the novel's meaning through extrapolation rather than through explicit or implicit details. Don't expect any literary indulgence in the form of speeches or recurring symbols. The overarching themes and the variety of perspectives ameliorate the quality of this novel. Overall, the narrative comes and goes with little intellectual injection, but the connections the reader makes can lead to a more profound experience, albeit one that Achebe doesn't work particularly hard to provide.
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on April 16, 2002
A thousand people have said this before me, but THINGS FALL APART is truly a wonderful piece of fiction. From the first pages, you are immersed in a beautiful, strange (to me, anyway), fascinating culture that comes through in every description, in the words that come from the character's mouths, in the conflicts between individuals and the clash of cultures, and especially in Achebe's direct, articulate, sparesely beautiful style.
As other reviewers have noted, it's usually not the best when you're being forced to read it for a class. But look at it this way: most books aren't. If you're in that situation, try to get past the coercion factor and the problem of grades, and read this book for yourself. It's a "classic" -- that's why they're making you read it -- and no one hates "classics" more than I, but THINGS FALL APART is much, much more than a "classic" work of fiction. It is a tragedy, deeply felt, that draws an unerring portrait of human nature and especially human conflict. It is a good story, and one beautifully told. It is an education you owe to yourself. And if that's still not enough: it's short.
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on March 29, 2002
The main character of this novel, Okonkwo, is a man who is haunted by the shame of his lazy and cowardly father. Even after earning fame and respect in all of the 9 villages of his homeland, he is still controlled by the fear of becoming weak like his father. This fear often causes him to be cruel to his family or to take strange and thoughtless actions. The story follows Okonkwo as he is faced with a series of troubles: caring for a boy from another village who is doomed by his own father's actions, watching his favorite daughter approaching death, and finally seeing the possibility of the destruction of all his beloved traditions when a group of Christian missionaries comes to the village. This novel introduces you to a culture that is so opposed to American culture that you will be amazed to find yourself appreciating their rituals and superstitions. By the end of the novel, I felt that I understood Okonkwo's way of life so well that I could see the Christian missionaries and their effect on the village from his point of view.
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on March 25, 2002
Things Fall Apart written by Chinua Achebe in 1959 is a lasting study of how one man's strengths and weaknesses are universal qualities. So many of us vow to lead our lives differently than our parents and in that effort of identity and purpose allow the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction. Such is the case of Okonkwo, a proud Nigerian tribesman who is embarrassed by his father Unoka. While Unoka is popular, he is also lazy and fails to adequately provide for his family.
Okonkwo is an African Horatio Alger who lifted himself up from the poverty his father left him with to become an influential and successful man in his tribe. Okonkwo is not without vanities and frailties. As he once lived in shame over his father's laziness and poverty, so now he walks in pride, failing to see his imperfections and need for guidance by others. He is rightly proud of his accomplishments and feels his achievements somehow put him beyond the rules and mores that guide the tribal life. This is a story about how social systems work to control personal behavior and the consequences for ignoring them.
Things Fall Apart is and interesting and entertaining look at tribal life in pre and early colonial Nigeria. It details daily life in a tribe, carefully examining superstitions and laws which guide the day to day living. Throughout the book tribal myths and stories are interspersed to illustrate how a cultures mythology effects there everyday living.
Things Fall Apart works on two levels. In part it is a character study which reveals universal truths for individuals living in any society and secondly it is a study of a society which existed prior to the colonization of Nigeria. Both levels make this book a valued one. It is a relatively short novel and a quick read.
I recommend the book for anyone who is interested in learning about Africa and learning about human nature.
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