I picked up this book several years ago and put it on my “to read” shelf with great gusto. And promtly forgot about it.
I wish I had read it sooner. Hell, if I was a high school English teacher, this would be part of my curriculum. It is good. I can see why it’s been aclaimed. Why the author, Chinua Achebe is aclaimed.
The book isn’t long or dense. It’s a pretty easy read over all. It is more a character exploration than anything else, digging into the “whys” of human choices than following the what in a direct path.
The book is broken into three parts which are unequal in length and depth. The first part is the longest in words. It is building the picture of the world of the protagonist Okonkwo and his own mindset. At the very start of the book I was a bit confused, but it did not last long.
The cadence is also very different than most books I’ve ever read. It remnds me a little of The Color Purple, when I read that book I had to adapt to the dialect used in the writing (i swear that book is meant to be an oral work, not a book!). This isn’t a dialect thing, but just a rythym of the events, characters, and occassionally the dialogue.
But that cadence is necessary. This isn’t supposecd to be a white man’s book. This is a Nigerian book with the pace, flow, and air of a Nigerian hand and mind – a different culture which builds itself into the language and presentation.
There aren’t a lot of works where I set it down and go “I wouldn’t change a word.” This now belongs on the list (Tell-Tale heart is on this list too FYI). If I changed anything it might be to take the glossary of Ibo words from the back of the book and set it as footnotes when those words are used.
Even as I write that idea out there is a part of me that says “Nope nope nope. Would ruin the pacing of the story.” So maybe put it at the beginning. I say this because I didn’t know it was back there and it would have been useful to have the resouce a few times.