03 July 2010

60. Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

Here is one of those book sitting on the shelf because I should have read it in school, long long ago. I never did. It has been waiting for me to "catch up". I chose to read it at this time because I was looking for something written by a foreign writer and I had put it on my list of books to be read this year. It killed two birds with one stone and gave me a sense of getting something done other than just reading a book.

This book has been reviewed and analyzed a thousand times. I don't need to cover all that again. I will say that it impressed me with its ability to portray the conflict when two societies come together. One dominates the other and it causes a lot of strife. Just being different does not make one wrong.

Something else that struck me was the character Okonkwo. He was a strong man who dealt with all of life’s problems from the position of never showing weakness and himself winning all battles. This outlook on life broke up many of his relationships with friends and family. It may have gained him respect, but that respect was short-lived. The broken relationships with people he should have cared about lasted forever. I felt sorry for him.

I think the best part of reading this book had nothing to do with the writing. I was reading it at work and asked a friend how to pronounce the author's first name. This co-worker is an immigrant from Ghana. He saw the book and got a huge smile. He said it took him back 25 years to his high school days. He was relating lots of stories about his experiences growing up in Ghana. Those were awesome.

Then he asked why I was reading this book. I told him it was one of the books that are suggested all high school students read, but I never did. I am making up for lost time. He was surprised to hear that American high school students read African authors. He did not even know anyone had heard of Achebe in America. He was pleased. I was pleased. That is much better than fighting and then hanging myself from a tree.

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