Chinua Achebe is the "dean" of contemporary African literature. Born in Nigeria into a Christian Ibo family in 1930, his book Things Fall Apart (1958) is the most read ever book by an author born in Africa and is a classic of post colonial literature. I am very glad I can now move this book out of the TBR category.
Things Fall Apart is Achebe's first novel. It is set in Nigeria and opens just before the colonial take over of the area begins. It is a very interesting and unsentimental look at life among the people of the region. It does not glorify life in pre-colonial Nigeria but portrays it as a place just like any other place on earth at the time, full of the weakness of humans and the suffering brought on my natural and man made tragedies.
The central character, a man we meet in his late teens or so, Okonkwo is a self made man, his father does not really help him as all as he should have. Through a foolish mistake, he ends up losing everything he has and is driven, along with his wives, into exile. In lots of ways Okonkwo is a very cruel man and there are real cruelties among the customs of the people of the time, such as the leaving of new born twins to die as it is felt they are somehow evil. He is very abusive toward his wives as appears to be the normal mode of behavior.
Achebe does not introduce European colonists into the work until it is nearly 75 percent completed. We first learn of them through the reaction of residents to others who have been converted to Christianity.
Things Fall Apart is an interesting well written book. I think perhaps it is read as much for its cultural importance as for any intrinsic merit it might have. I am glad I read it.