Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Things Fall Apart at Fifty


The river of human time keeps flowing, marked by rituals, disbelief, and wild flailings about. Last year ushered in the fiftieth anniversaries of Sputnik, On the Road, and On the Beach; this year, to the latest cycle add Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe's classic first novel (1958). Set in Nigeria and using both Western and African narrative techniques, Things Fall Apart follows the tragic arc of local leader Okonkwo as he struggles under the blows and stresses of colonialization, missionary activity, and internal conflict.

Here we are, just fifty years later, experiencing comparable pressures from -- if not outright colonization -- globalization. In the intervening time, Michigan (where I live but am not from originally) has become a socio-economic disaster where things have fallen apart and will never be the same because everything changes. Like Okonkwo, we must adapt, seek refuge, or go under.

There's much more to say about Achebe and his writing -- at some point. The Nigerian-born writer, now 77, teaches at Bard College in New York.

Yesterday's Rune: Harvest. Today's: Breakthrough.

4 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

The phrase "things fall apart" is so evocative. I've used it myself.

Lana Gramlich said...

Y'all have it particularly rough in Michigan these days. <:( *hugs*

Bubs said...

I need to go back and re-read this. I remember liking it, really liking it, when I read it 25 or 26 years ago. Now I couldn't tell you what it's about.

Beth said...

My "things fall apart at fifty" next spring ... and I've never felt younger.