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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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Amazing story & book, the reading, however Wasn't

I'm Nigerian, and so I was excited to see Chinua Achebe's books on audible. My excitement was greatly diminished once I listened to the first few lines of the book. Most of the Igbo words were severely butchered and I found myself not following because I had to actively translate what the reader was saying to the actual word- very distracting to say the least! To the Non-Nigerian, this is not a big deal but for me it was a big deal. Since there are so many Nigerians in Nigeria and the diaspora couldn't audible find someone who is knowledgeable of these pronunciations? I think it was naïve, lazy and somewhat disrespectful to simply stumble on the Igbo pronunciations, using the rules of English language to pronounce non-English words. Of-course the story-line was great, the reading did not do justice to the book or the essence of this book.

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It’s all about the journey

This book is a journey. I didn’t fully appreciate the book at first because there are several “irrelevant” details and small story lines. It wasn’t until the end that I realized these details help you understand the characters and the way of life. The story was just OK, but once I completed it, I appreciated the whole thing so much more and went on to buy the next two audibles in the series. So relax, and enjoy the story:)
Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry #Audible20

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Excellently narrated story!

I really enjoyed the many cultural elements which made this story so unique and culturally enriching.

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Moving story but told too slowly

Where does Things Fall Apart rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book is one that I would not have normally picked up and read if I had not been required to read it. That being said, I am appreciative of the chance to hear a story told from a perspective I am not familiar with. While this story is not among my favorites, the themes familiar to so many of the stories I have read appear in this foreign culture and make clear that humans are not as different as we think we are.

What did you like best about this story?

I like the perspective this story allowed me to take. I was able to see native Africans in a well-developed culture that thrived before Europeans arrived to "save" them. The story of an African's experience, told from an African perspective, makes this story unique and worthwhile. I also like the main character, Okonkwo, who is complex and felt fully realized. He is flawed in such a way that will be familiar to many of us.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

If I had any complaints about the performance of the reader, it would be the pacing of his reading. At times his reading is frustratingly slow, and I found myself wishing he would read at a faster pace. The slow pace seemed deliberate, and although I never used it, I considered using the feature that speeds up the reading. Perhaps the slow pace was due to the complicated pronunciation of African names, places, and things?

If you could rename Things Fall Apart, what would you call it?

I would rename this novel "The Beginning of the End." Or perhaps "The Coming of the Rains."

Any additional comments?

Consider this story if you are looking for a story that takes a realistic look at the life of native Africans before and during their exposure to the white man and his cultural influences.

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Worst book

Not worth reading, forced to read cuz summer reading book lmao don't waste ur time

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Fascinating

This book was truly fascinating. Perhaps the best of the audiobooks I have listened to so far.

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  • LB
  • 07-31-17

Complex and intricately told

Surprising, and important. I appreciated the delicate and compassionate, yet matter-of-fact way the complexities of these characters and these challenges were told.

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Odd choice of narrator

This is absolutely one of my favorite stories, but I really wish that they would have gotten a Nigerian to narrate. Hearing the majority of the story read in American accent was...off putting.

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Nigirian account of Christian tribal destruction

I struggled to finish this story because of the deep cultural loss & confusion suffered by the tribal natives when the white strangers came to live in their village. The inevitable resulting conflicts with Brittish rules caused tribal life and custom "to fall apart". This was an informative but very sad historical account. I also struggled to listen to the story because of the inclusion of so many African names and unexplained words. I am not going to purchase any other books by this author.

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Better in print

I enjoyed the story but gave it lower ratings because the names were so foreign and sounded so similar that I often was confused. Narration was good but I still confused the different characters. Overall, I believe this book would have been better in print.