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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
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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
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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)
"Peter Francis James’s bass voice resonates perfectly with the elevated diction and multiple voices of Achebe’s novel. It’s a firm, sometimes furious voice, when speaking the powerful Okonkwo, but yielding and playful with his daughter, Ezinma. Full of melodic richness, James projects Achebe’s genuinely African cadences with a power and dignity equal to his vision, giving us finally in audio the most moving picture ever of African village life by an African." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Darwin8u on 11-28-12

Achebe's Magnum Opus

Achebe's Magnum Opus is one of those essential novels that one can see greatness while at the same moment understand that part of its strength lies not in anything the novel itself ever does, but in the place the novel holds in time and place. If 'Things Fall Apart' were written 40 years earlier it would have probably been ignored both in Africa and the West. If it had been written 40 years later, it would have been seen as good postcolonialist novel, but just one of many. Coming when and where they did, 'Things Fall Apart'/Achebe managed to achieve greatness because they became the central model/mentor to which many later African novels/novelists would look as they tried to communicate their unique historical and cultural vision of modern Africa.

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42 of 44 people found this review helpful


By Michael on 05-03-15

At the Dawn of Colonialism in Africa

This book reads like a fantasy novel but is historically based fiction. It is an interesting tale of tribal African life at the dawn of colonization. The story and characters are captivating, especially the African wives’ tales. This book was on some lists of the best of the twentieth century. I would not go so far as that, but it is a good book, well worth the listen. As a book written by a native Nigerian that well received and praised in Africa and in the West in the late 1950’s, it deserved to be included in the lists of greats due to its good writing combined with its cultural importance.

The narration is excellent dealing well with the native vocabulary, expression of emotions, and storytelling.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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