ACHEBE, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann, 1958.
8vo. Publisher's red cloth, spine lettered in gilt; in the original illustrated dust wrapper (not price-clipped); pp. viii, 185, ; light unobtrusive marks to cloth; slight chipping to edges of wrapper, most concentrated around head of spine; minor sunning to spine; with a few light marks to lower panel of cloth; slight even toning to edges; light spotting to preliminary pages and final leaves, a very good copy in the striking wrapper.
First edition. First published in 1958, Things Fall Apart is a classic work of African literature and is widely considered to be one of the most important novels produced in the twentieth century. Set in Nigeria in the late nineteenth century, the novel follows its protagonist Okonkwo who is a proud Igbo warrior. Through the lens of Okonkwo's life and experiences, the novel follows the profoundly damaging effects of British colonialism in the area, and the influence of Christian missionaries on Igbo society. The turbulent upheval caused by European colonisers intruded greatly on the indigenous cultures and societies, with the colonial rule imposing Western values and institutions on people in the region. The story itself captures the clash between traditional Igbo values and society, which forcefully and tragically unravels the Okonkwo's way of life and destroys his community.
This novel is a seminal work of post-colonial literature, challening Eurocentric narratives in and about colonised places, and provides a nuanced and powerful voice to marginalised people who had for so long been silenced. In his work, Achebe achieves a depth and complexity of dealing with colonial powers and the profound effects that they had on eliminating long, rich histories, contributing to a broader discourse that began to emerge in the mid-twentieth century on the effects of colonisation and the complexities of cultural encounters and enforced rule. Though this novel did not win any prizes itself, Achebe's contributions to literature were later recognised with various awards, including the Man Booker International Prize and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.