Very difficult for any book to follow Love in the Time of Cholera. From the heights of Marquez, Achebe was very simplistic in contrast. I’m trying not to compare, but it’s hard to allow the emotions from a really good book from spilling over and colouring the objectivity in reading the next.
Achebe tells the story of Okwonkwo, a leader in a tribe in Nigeria, and how his carefully planned existence and climb to power eventually unravels in a sequence of events outside of his control. The life of the village and its inhabitants brings me back to the excellent The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver. Achebe’s prose is simple, straightforward, but in its simplicity lies a strong voice.
The interesting thing about this book, like Poisonwood, was its eventual discussion of the introduction of Christianity into a relatively peaceful albeit primitive existence. I find myself asking whether modernization is worth the price of admission for these simple folk.
I like the questions it asks here, and it is definitely more complex than the start of the book would have you believe. Read it if you want to learn about a drastically different culture (if Africa is not yet something you’re familiar with), and if you want a portrayal of how forced injection of modernity and a religion designed to spread affects culture, family and society.