Dan Sandman

15: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

In Adventure, Books, Fiction on 12/04/2013 at 12:00 pm

Penguin Modern Classics were introduced by British publisher Penguin in 1961. At the time, the idea to give ‘classic’ status to contemporary books was unconventional. Up to that point, Penguin had only applied the term to established books such as Pride and Prejudice or Gulliver’s Travels. Early Penguin Modern Classics included The Great Gatsby by F. Schott Fitzgerald and Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: clearly they were on to something good.

Written in 1958, Things Fall Apart is set in pre-colonial Nigeria in the 1890s. Its author, Chinua Achebe is widely credited as the founder of modern African literature. Sadly, Achebe died last month (March the 21st 2013) at the age of 82. Nelson Mandela once said that Achebe was “[The writer] in whose company the prison walls fell down”. This high praise from Mandela, should make Achebe’s books essential reading; especially if you have an interest in African history. In my opinion, Things Fall Apart is one the best books I have read this year.

Although, at £8.99, Penguin Modern Classics are priced highly, in my opinion they are worth the extra cash. The cover designs are appropriate, the paper is of high quality, and the books have excellent introductions. My brother said that he likes his Kindle because he can easily carry it in his coat pocket; at about the size of a sandwich, paperbacks are also great for travelling with. High quality paperback books are slim, lightweight, and even smell nice if you flick the pages towards your nose.

I guess it won’t be too long before Amazon release a digital smell e-book. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy putting new paper-made books on my shelves, admiring their sides and thinking about all of the printed words inside. Perhaps, when I’m older, printed books will have become an archaic and quaintly outdated art-form. Maybe handwriting will have been replaced by font choice. It is possible, if things carry on hurtling towards digitisation, that bookshops will not exist. I bought this book from my local bookshop Primrose Hill Books whilst it was snowing in April. As is the custom in my country, I talked about the weather with a friendly and knowledgeable staff member. I said that I couldn’t remember it ever snowing in April before. She replied that she has photographic evidence from three years ago to the contrary.

The things you learn from people.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe


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