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Naomi Alderman recommends 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe

Naomi Alderman author'A classic of the world's literature for good reason. It follows the life of one man, Okonkwo, a leader and wrestler in the village of Umuofia, part of the Igbo nation. I won't spoil it for you by saying what era the novel is set in - one of the joys of the first half is realising that it could be *any* time, that the patterns of life in the village answer to a different calendar than that we're used to in the west. Achebe immerses the reader in the life of Umuofia so entirely that the waters close over our heads, we become 'native', we understand (or feel we understand, Achebe gives us the illusion that we understand) the way these people think and interact and the codes they live by. The intrusion of the West is shocking and repulsive, felt from this position. It's a shock worth feeling, one which changes hearts and minds about the nature of colonialism.'

About the book

'Things Fall Apart' shows life in a Nigerian village, and the relationship between the village leader, Okonkwo, and Ikemefuna, a boy prisoner from a rival tribe to whom Okonkwo becomes a father figure. When it is decided that Ikemefuma must die Okonkwo has to make a decision about what his honour is worth. The book also shows the advances from the western world, and how it pierces and challenges the proud community in the village.

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About Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University. Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages and in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. She broadcasts regularly, and writes a weekly games column for the Guardian.