You can find a more detailed overview of the book and biography at LitLovers, but I thought these comments from the discussion guide published by Random House would be a good, concise introduction to the book.
Biography of Chinua Acebe (from Books@Random)
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan.
His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad.
From 1972 to 1976, and again in 1987 to 1988, Mr. Achebe was a Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and also for one year at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Cited in the London Sunday Times as one of the 1,000 “Makers of the Twentieth Century,” for defining “a modern African literature that was truly African” and thereby making “a major contribution to world literature,” Mr. Achebe has published novels, short stories, essays, and children’s books. His volume of poetry, Christmas in Biafra, written during the Biafran War, was the joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize. His novel Arrow of God was winner of the New Statesman-Jock Campbell Award, and Anthills of the Savannah was a finalist for the 1987 Booker Prize in England.
Often mentioned as a leading candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Achebe holds an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as more than twenty honorary doctorates from universities in England, Scotland, the U.S., Canada, and Nigeria. He is also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.
About the book (from Books@Random)
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe’s first novel, was published in 1958. Worldwide, there are eight million copies in print in fifty different languages. This stunning work, which John Updike calls “a great book, that bespeaks a great, brave, kind human spirit,” is often compared to the great Greek tragedies. It concerns itself with the classic struggle between rigid traditionalism and the winds of change. Specifically, it is about the effects of British colonialism on a small Nigerian village at the turn of the century. A simple story of a “strong man” whose life is dominated by fear and anger, it is written with remarkable economy and subtle irony. Uniquely and richly African, at the same time it reveals Achebe’s keen awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.
- What books have you read that are by African authors or that are set in Africa?
- What did you like/dislike about the book(s) by African authors?
- What are you anticipating about this book?