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lono

What I am reading

the weird and highly subjective way I see it

Currently reading

Der Utopische Staat
Klaus Joachim Heinisch, Tommaso Campanella, Thomas More
Progress: 215/292 pages
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page
Matt Kish
Progress: 400/570 pages
Fifty Egg Timer Short Stories
Richard Bunning

Africa meets Europe

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

Apparently, this is the most influential modern African novel and basically the 101 for African literature, but despite that, I have never heard of it before (and I have only heard about it now since I am currently attending a lecture on African literature).

 

Chinua Achebe writes about the beginning of British colonialism in Nigeria among the Igbo from a somewhat neutral position. There are three parts of the book which I liked in varying degrees. The first part describes the "traditional" life and the customs of an Igbo society in the fictional village of Umuofia, following the protagonist Okonkwo. This is the part I liked the least. It is very patriarchal and Okonkwo is occupied with one thing only – to "be a man", which means going Heathcliff on everybody (btw, I am not a fan of Wuthering Heights for apparent reasons).

 

The second part is slowly introducing the white, christian missionaries and describes the first contact of Okonkwo and his community with the "white man" and in the third part colonialism is established and well, things fall apart. I am aware of how terrible and selfish this sounds, but those were the really interesting parts of Achebes book.

 

I especially liked  the realism and the impartiality of the narration, meaning that this is no black and white story. While the British were naturally depicted as being arrogant and bossy, at the same time some of them were shown as rather kind and having good intentions. The same goes for Okonkwo and his kinsmen – while being strong and confident, Achebe shows them as also naive and somewhat uncivilised.

 

In the end, Things Fall Apart is hard to get into at the beginning, but it develops into an enthralling description of the destruction caused by western civilisation in Africa.