You can almost feel the warmth of a campfire as Peter Francis James delivers a passionate reading of Chinua Achebe's classic African tale about power, prestige, and the Herculian struggle of one man to acquir status in the face of overwhelming odds and one gigantic obstacle after another: droughts, missionaries, poverty, and, most of all, his own powerful Shakespearian demons.
Things Fall Apart remains one of the most revered African novels ever written, and James brings an authoritative tone to this 1959 classic. Listening to his booming voice, you understand why he previously narrated portions of The Bible. His rich, baritone voice perfectly suits Achebe's fable-like prose. James' melodic voice lulls you into thinking this seemingly simple tale will resolve itself with everyone living happily ever after. Don't be fooled. This short, incisive book packs a punch you might not see coming right away.
The main character, Okonkwo, aspires to be everything his father was not: industrious, serious, successful, respected. But no matter how hard this determined farmer works, fate or the forces of nature seem to conspire against him. Then things become even more complicated when a missionary comes to Okonkwo's village. The changes seem subtle at first, but slowly the social fabric of the village begins to unravel like a loose strand of yarn in a hand-made sweater.
The razor-sharp plot twists could easily feel far-fetched in a lesser author's hands. But Achebe earns every predicament that bedevils Okonkwo with precise sentences and perceptive insights into what drives people to do what they do. And you don't have to know anything about Africa to relate to Okonkwo's struggles. Like all great authors, Achebe taps into the same fears and desires that inspire and consume people around the world, for better or for worse. Ken Ross
With over eight million copies in print world wide, Achebe's work is a definitive novel in African literature. Filled with powerful language and finely drawn characters, Things Fall Apart also shimmers with the sounds and sights of village life.
Okonkwo is born into poverty, with a wastrel for a father. Driven by ambition, he works tirelessly to gain the prosperity of many fields and wives, and prestige in his village. But he is harsh as well as diligent. As he sees the traditions of his people eroded by white missionaries and government officials, he lashes out in anger.
Things Fall Apart traces the growing friction between village leaders and Europeans determined to save the heathen souls of Africa. But its hero, a noble man who is driven by destructive forces, speaks a universal tongue.
©1959 Chinua Achebe; (P)1997 Recorded Books, LLC
"Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture." (Amazon.com review)
"Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece." (Library Journal)
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Chinua Achebe explains what happens when civilizations collide in “Things Fall Apart”. Achebe lived a life that proves the truth of his novel.
Achebe was born in Nigeria but educated in English at the University of Ibadan, the oldest university in Nigeria (founded in 1948). Achebe, born in 1930, wrote “Things Fall Apart” in the 1950s (published in 1958). It sold more than 12 million copies and was translated into more than 50 languages. It is a story of the changing face of Nigeria. (Sadly, Achebe died this year on March 21, 2013.)
Without knowing Achebe’s background, a first reading of “Things Fall Apart” begins in confusion but as the story progresses its meaning and value become clear. Two thirds of the book explains life in an African village that is untouched by a white man’s world or any civilization outside of its clan and its related communities. The listener is being offered an understanding of an African village’s culture.
From the perspective of the clan’s leaders, “Things Fall Apart”. Achebe gives the world a first-hand account of how a tribal culture is destroyed. One proud culture is replaced by another proud culture; first with small steps, and then with generational leaps. The good and bad of one culture are replaced by the good and bad of another.
After listening to Achebe’s book, one guardedly chooses to believe that cultural evolution is moving toward a better life for Africans.
I listened to this story because my 16 year old was reading it in his world literature class. This story was about missionaries coming to Africa in the middle of the 20th century. There were many characters with indigenous African names. Lots of references to culture-specific customs, practices, ,and artifacts. I kept wanting to google the names of various "things" to find out what they were. Perhaps the print edition of this book comes with a glossary to define all the unique names.
This is an interesting story of the culture of First Nations in Africa. The all to familiar mistreatment by so-called 'civilized' people is outlined once again. For me, it was an interesting novel but it did not hold my attention and I have not recommended 'Things Fall Apart' to any of my family.
Estate planning lawyer and mom to two boys. My older son liked audiobooks as an infant, and I've listened to a lot since then.
My teen age sons and I all enjoyed this classic, especially as experienced through the wonderful narration. They both had to read it in 8th grade and I'm not sure they would have listed it as one of their favorite all time books without the compelling audio. The narrator's voice seems exactly right and is helpful with the unfamiliar vocabulary.
This story of a tragedy of colonial invasion seems to have continuing relevance, unfortunately. Definitely a classic to have experienced for yourself.
Powerful story of a culture I was not very familiar with. Beautifully told and narrated. Lots of fascinating detail.
I would not recommend this book. I thought that I would enjoy learning about this African culture, however, I ended up disliking the main character, Okonkwo, and could care less about what would happen to him.
I eventually gave up and did not finish listening to it. The narrator, Peter Francis James, did a great job of narrating it though.
In my modest opinion, Things Fall Apart flourishes as one of the most paramount-able audible Ive ever listened to.
One of the most memorable moment in Things Fall Apart was when Okonkwo the great warrior was tasked by the village oracle to dispatch his (son) Ikemefuna.
My favorite scene was one in which the christian church was destroyed, demolished and devastated. this scene to me exhibited power, imagery, and poetic justice.
If I could take any one character from Things Fall Apart to dinner I would take Ikemefuna. He seems to me as a very relatable character and I would assume there'd be a voluminous amount of conversation to be had.
This is an insurmountable novel by Chinua Achebe that far exceeds the passage of time and man kind will always have it to tell the tail of south Nigeria and the Igbo culture.
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