I recently read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, originally published in 1958. This is considered one of the landmark novels of Nigerian literature. It is essentially the story of the life of a strongman in pre-colonial Nigeria and the first part of a trilogy chronicling life in the country in pre-colonial and colonial times. I appreciated the simplicity of its language and its detached tone, which calls for a more engaged reading experience.
Here are nine quotes from the book that particularly stood out to me.
Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.
No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man.
A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches.
He was always alone and was shaped like a coffin. A sickly odour hung in the air wherever he went, and flies went with him. Even the greatest medicine-men took shelter when he was near.
A man’s life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.
The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent.
A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland.
‘The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.’