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Things Fall Apart


I think Carol’s quite right about Achebe – No Longer At Ease is a considerably deft novel, offering an affecting portrait of the agonies of cultural transition. I thought it certainly better than Things Fall Apart – there was no symbolism-freighted “white man” in the distance, but instead a steady, grinding portrait of Okonkwo’s grandson being destroyed by the conflicting demands of his tribe and his work. Rather like Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilization, Achebe points to a missing stage in development – a chasm between the traditional and the modern, whose absence greatly complicates the path to the seamless modern. Age-old ties and systems are difficult to tear apart – as any good Burkean would agree – the same is the case here. Achebe (no more than Naipaul) doesn’t advance any easy anti-modern solutions (leaving that to Arundhati Roy?) but sketches out the profound structural challenges that individuals face in post-colonial societies.


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