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Posts tagged ‘things fall apart’

Ranking The First 45 Novels

Not long after I started this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to start ranking the books based on my opinions.

When I interviewed Lev Grossman, he explained why Time didn’t rank the books, which makes sense. But I’ve kept at it anyway, fully realizing these are completely subjective and, most likely, pointless rankings.

Every five books, I take a little time to explain my thoughts on where I’ve ranked each novel. This last batch of five was one of the best groups of books I’ve read yet.

Three of the five are in my top 10, with Under The Volcano being the only real stinker of the bunch.

Here’s how I broke them down:

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Book #43: Things Fall Apart

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. One of the things I love about reading through this expansive, diverse list is the opportunity I have to learn about other places, cultures, and periods in history.

And I’m not sure that any novel has taken me further away—at least in the sense of culture and lifestyle—than Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe.

This book is brilliant. I absolutely love it.

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The Spirit World In “Things Fall Apart”

What I love about Things Fall Apart is how it so easily transports me to another time, place, and culture that’s the complete antithesis to my own.

Could early late 19th century Nigeria—in the small tribe of Umuofia–be any more different than early 21st century Nashville, Tennessee? Slightly.

One of the predominant themes in the novel is the spirit world. These people were freaked out by spirits—in the form of their ancestors and the gods.

The tribe’s leaders would dress up in masks and elaborate gowns, appear out of a tent in the middle of the village, and claim to be the egwugwu–ancestral gods.

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Chinua Achebe Takes On 50 Cent

In one corner, it’s Chinua Achebe, Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart—one of the most celebrated novels in the history of the planet.

In the other corner, it’s 50 Cent, famous rapper, wanna-be actor.

Last year, these two faced off in a lawsuit showdown—slightly less interesting than a showcase showdown on The Price Is Right.

At issue, the name of 50 Cent’s upcoming movie at the time, Things Fall Apart. Achebe—or, more accurately, Achebe’s lawyers—said you can’t do that, Fiddy. You can’t use the name of one of the most celebrated novels in the world for your low end movie about a football player with cancer.

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What’s In A Name?

Things Fall Apart is an outstanding book. I’m only halfway through it, and I can already tell that I’m going to love this one.

I’m a 36-year-old white guy in Tennessee. I’ve never been to Nigeria, much less the Nigeria of the late 19th Century. So it’s really a testament to Chinua Achebe’s writing and creativity that I really feel like I’m there when reading this story. I feel like I connect with these characters, even though there customs and culture is a world apart from mine.

Speaking of that, one of the most difficult aspects of the novel has been keeping up with all the names. It seems that many names with the clan start with an O, and it’s not Oscar and Oliver and Obi-Wan and names that I would be familiar with. It’s names that I’m pretty sure I’m not pronouncing correctly in my head.

For instance:

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Next Up: Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart is one of those novels that I’ve always heard about and always thought to myself, I’ll read that one day, but I’ve never got around to doing it.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what I think about this book.

The novel is about a leader (and wrestling champion) in a small village in Nigeria in the late 19th century. The story focuses on the culture and customs of his clan, and how they are affected when a group of white, European missionaries arrive. It’s considered one of the premier African novels written in the English language.

A few facts about Things Fall Apart and its author, Chinua Achebe:

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And The Next Five Novels Will Be…

I’ll be reviewing Dog Soldiers tomorrow, my 38th read from the Time list. That means it’s time to lay out the next five novels. I took the liberty to pick out the next batch this time around. But I think that, next time, I’ll open it up for you guys to pick them again.

The general thought process behind my selections is to go with a couple of novels I’m totally unfamiliar with, as well as a couple that I have at least heard of.

So here are books 39-43, in no particular order:

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