Banned Books Week - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

In honor of Banned Books Week, we are discussing Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958).

The book:

Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a 'strong man' of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Things Fall Apart is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.” - Goodreads

Why it was banned:

Things Fall Apart has been banned by the government in Malaysia and Nigeria because of its negative portrayal of colonialism and the consequences that follow. While it has never been officially banned in the United States, it was challenged in 2012 for elements of racism due to the culture and context.

Why you should read it:

This is an excellent story that explores the historical clash of African and European culture and depicts the storytelling styles of Africa. We recommend reading it for the thought-provoking themes of contradicting challenges, such as the struggle between accepting change while maintaining tradition, making sense of culturally diverse ideals and various definitions of masculinity and femininity, and cultural differences found through language and action.


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