Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
158 Pages – 2007 –
647 KB –
Translated into 50 languages, selling 11 million copies worldwide, “Things fall apart” has become a classic African literary work. Half a century ago, the novel had a profound impact on the life and people of the black continent.
For a long time, the story of Africa was almost exclusively told by European writers. But that has changed since the 1950s when African nations, in turn, gained independence and black continent writers began to write stories about themselves.
A special book – Things Fall Apart
– published in 1958, became a classic of world literature, translated into 50 languages, sold 11 million copies. The novel is set in a village, now in Nigeria, about the first encounter of the Ibo people with European missionaries.
Chinua Achebe was only 28 years old when he wrote his debut work. Since then, he has published a number of other works, most of which refer to a post-colonial African. Last year, he just won the Man Booker Prize.
Achebe was paralyzed in a car accident in Nigeria in 1990. Since then, he has mainly lived and taught at Bard College in New York. Here is the conversation with him.
– What made you decide to write “Things Fall Apart” 50 years ago?
– I know I have to do something.
– What exactly is it?
– It is a concern about my position in this world, a story of myself, a story of my people. I am also very close and knowledgeable about other people.
– By growing up he was soon exposed to English literature?
– Yes, educated English, sometimes I seem to forget myself. Think of a bookshelf. You know, when a book is taken, it leaves a blank. Myself, my people is the blank space on the shelf of my soul.
– Why did you put “Things Fall Apart” in the 19th century, a time of transition between the two eras?
– I want to record the moment of change in which one culture has the opportunity to collide and dialogue with another. From there, a new one will arise.
– When a conflict between civilizations occurs, it usually starts with religion. What do you think?
– I find it very interesting to know that his parents used to convert to Christianity.
– Yes. Exactly. I used to think that Christianity is a very good religion, very valuable to us. But some time later, I thought, the story I told about this religion was incomplete. I had forgotten something. It seems that I have not investigated the verses behind the Ibo’s choice of religion.
– It’s a bit silly to ask this, but will he be surprised by what happens to the book? In your opinion, why is the book so popular?
– I do not know.
– But can you explain?
– Oh, I can only guess. Some foreign readers told me that they found from the book what resonates with history, with the people and with their people.
One proof is the letter I received from a girls’ school in Korea. Many years after the work came out, a whole class at this school wrote to me, because they had just learned Things Fall Apart. They wrote: “That is our history.”
– Even Koreans?
– Yes, even Koreans. They explained that they had also been invaded by Japan and that humiliating suffering was more than enough.
And maybe, the book deals with global issues from which one person, one locality, one sees mankind.
– Once upon a time, Africa was told only in the eyes of European writers. Currently, he is satisfied with the development of the team of native writers?
– This is just the beginning. We need more time. But more and more people are getting into literature.
In fact, after Things Fall Apart published, seemingly everywhere, people are waiting for African stories to be told by Africans themselves. That seems like a very good sign.