November 2017: Book Club Review

Theme - Author from a foreign land: ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe 

Despite being a staple on the list of GCSE set texts, no-one had ever read this novel before. Set in Nigeria, it focuses on pre- and post-colonial life in the nineteenth century. The title is taken from Yeat’s poem ‘The Second Coming’ – “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…” and our initial responses to the book agreed that this accurately summarises the situation that the protagonist, Okonkwo, finds himself in.

Toxic masculinity and colonial influences are the downfalls in this book, and therefore they dominated our discussion. We considered the roles of sons and daughters across the different generations, and the symbolism of Okonkwo’s final act as indicative of his people’s culture.

It is clear that Achebe has a message to communicate, but many in the group found it to be too dark and therefore a depressing read. However, this didn’t stop our appreciation of this African classic.

Overall we gave this book a rating of 2/3.

Recommended further reading:

If you would like to read more Chinua Achebe, you could try the sequel ‘No Longer At Ease’ or one of his other books:

  • ‘Arrow of God’

  • ‘A Man of the People’

  • ‘Anthills of the Savannah’

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