The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1/5/2010
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
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Here, collected for the first time in Everymanís Library, are the three internationally acclaimed classic novels that comprise what has come to be known as Chinua Achebeís African Trilogy.

Beginning with the best selling Things Fall Apart on the heels of its fiftieth anniversary The African Trilogy captures a society caught between its traditional roots and the demands of a rapidly changing world. Achebeís most famous novel introduces us to Okonkwo, an important member of the Igbo people, who fails to adjust as his village is colonized by the British. In No Longer at Ease we meet his grandson, Obi Okonkwo, a young man who was sent to a university in England and has returned, only to clash with the ruling elite to which he now believes he belongs. Arrow of God tells the story of Ezuelu, the chief priest of several Nigerian villages, and his battle with Christian missionaries.

In these masterful novels, Achebe brilliantly sets universal tales of personal and moral struggle in the context of the tragic drama of colonization.

About the Author

Chinua Achebe is the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. He was, for over 15 years, the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He is the author of five novels, two short-story collections, and numerous other books. In 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize. He lives with his wife in Providence, Rhode Island.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. A 2003 O. Henry Prize winner, Adichie now divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Author Biography

Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930 and now lives in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he
teaches at Bard College. His work has been translated into fifty languages.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. A 2003 O. Henry Prize winner, Adichie now divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.




When, in 1958, the London publishers William Heinemann received a manuscript of Chinua Achebe’sThings Fall Apart, they were unsure whether to publish it. The central question, according to editor Alan Hill, was this: ‘Would anyone possibly buy a novel by an African?’ Not only were there a mere handful of examples of African writing in English at the time – such as Amos Tutuola’s surreal The Palm-Wine Drinkard and Cyprian Ekwensi’s novel of contemporary Lagos, People of the City – but none of them had the ambition, the subtlety, or the confidence of Things Fall Apart.

Chinua Achebe had initially conceived it as a story of three generations: a man in pre-colonial Igboland who struggles against the changes brought by the first European missionaries and administrators; his son who converts to Christianity and receives some Western education; and his grandson who is educated in England and is living the life of the new elite on the cusp of independence. Achebe later scaled down the novel, focusing only on the first generation, to produce a carefully observed story of the African European colonial encounter set among the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria in the 1890s, with the tragic hero Okonkwo at its center. Achebe’s second novel, No Longer at Ease, would skip a generation and tell the story of Okonkwo’s grandson, Obi, a civil servant in 1950s Lagos. His third novel, Arrow of God, about an Igbo priest and a British district officer in 1920s Igboland, can be read as representative of the times of Okonkwo’s son. All three novels, taken together as Achebe’s ‘African Trilogy’, create a full and beautifully nuanced arc, a human chronicle of the cultural and political changes that brought about what is now seen as the modern African state.

After William Heinemann overcame their reservations and publishedThings Fall Apartin June 1958, it became a critical success. Achebe, theTimes Literary Supplementwrote, had ‘genuinely succeeded in presenting tribal life from the inside.’ A novelty indeed. Things Fall Apart was pioneering not in its subject but in its African point of view, as there were already many well-regarded books about Africans written by non-Africans; tribal life had already been endlessly portrayed from the outside. Achebe himself first read some of the better-known examples of these ‘colonialism classics’ as a secondary-school student in the 1940s. ‘I did not see myself as an African to begin with,’ he has written about his response to the African characters. ‘I took sides with the white men against the savages. The white man was good and reasonable and intelligent and courageous. The savages arrayed against him were sinister and stupid or, at the most, cunning. I hated their guts.’ As Achebe matured and became more critical in his reading, he began to understand the enormous power that stories had, and how much this power was shaped by who told the stories and by how they were told. As a university student in the 1950s, in addition to reading Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Coleridge, Achebe also read Joyce Cary’s Mister Johnson, a novel set in Nigeria, which Time magazine had named the ‘best book ever written about Africa.’ Achebe disagreed. Not only was the Nigerian character in the novel unrecognizable to him and his classmates but he also detected, in the description of Nigerians, ‘an undertow of uncharitableness . . . a contagion of distaste, hatred and mockery.’

There has been much written about Chinua Achebe’sThings Fall Apartas a response to Mister Johnson, and one likes to think that Achebe would have written his novel even if he had not read Cary’s. Still, the prejudiced representation of African characters in literatur

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Customer Reviews

Amazing short novels. June 15, 2011
Being knowledgeable about Africa helps me understand and empathize with the current plight of Native Americans. My thanks to Achebe for his marvelous contribution to literature. This textbook has a permanent place on my shelves. This is a beautiful textbook with three beautiful short novels. It is an amazing textbook which everyone should read again and again.
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The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

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