9 Timeless Chinua Achebe Books Summary

A book written by Oluwarotimi Kolade

Embark on a literary journey through the timeless works of Chinua Achebe, a pioneering figure in African literature. From the iconic "Things Fall Apart" to the insightful "There Was a Country," Achebe's narratives delve into the complexities of culture, politics, and identity, leaving an indelible mark on readers worldwide.

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9 Timeless Chinua Achebe Books

It’s impossible to talk about the African 20th-century literary legendaries without mentioning a great author who made an indelible mark in the sands of time, Chinua Achebe. He is a trailblazer in the African literature world with numerous publications like “Things Fall Apart,” “No Longer at Ease,” “Chike and the River,” etc. These are novels used in many schools for literature, even in external examinations. 

Chinua Achebe’s stories are mostly centered around human culture, conditions, and challenges. His prose, both poignant, has left a notable impact on the lives of readers across the globe. The author, during his time on Earth, wrote many timeless stories and books, but we’ll take a look at just 9. However, before that, let’s get to know author Chinua Achebe.

About Chinua Achebe

Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe, popularly known as Chinua Achebe, is a renowned Nigerian author who is also one of Africa’s most influential literary icons. He was born in 1930 in Ogidi, a town in Anambra State, Nigeria. Before becoming an author, Chinua Achebe was once a teacher and became a broadcaster. During his academic days, he studied to become a doctor before switching to education at the University of Nigeria, Ibadan. 

His deep passion and love for storytelling and writing made him go into writing, and his debut book, “Things Fall Apart,” gained him Global recognition. The book is not just a novel but a seminal work that discusses the impact of colonization on African communities. After that, he published other books, including “No Longer at Ease,” “The Arrow of God,” etc. He’s a great author whose books address the historical and cultural challenges Africans face and also challenges Western stereotypes.

1•     “Things Fall Apart” (1958)

On Things Fall Apart - The Daily Reality

“Things Fall Apart” is the debut novel of Author Chinua Achebe, which was published in 1958, and the story brought him to the limelight. “Things Fall Apart” is a book that looks deeply into the life of the Igbo people before and after the European Colonists came into the country. The story centers around the life of Okonkwo, who  is a courageous and ambitious warrior dealing with circumstance arising from colonialism, internal strife, and societal shifts. 

Okonkwo is a hard-working and passion-driven man who is set deeply on his desire to avoid the assumed weaknesses of his Father and make sure he becomes successful in his village, Umuofia, and beyond. “Things Fall Apart” is a book that explores customs, evolution, and the conflict between native beliefs and colonial influences, providing an accurate account of the fallout from social upheaval and cultural disruption.

2•     “No Longer At Ease” (1960)

BBC Radio 4 - No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe, Episode 1

“No Longer at Ease” is the second book that Chinua Achebe published in 1960. This story is a sequel to the author’s debut novel, “Things Fall Apart.” But explores the life of a protagonist called Obi Okonkwo, who is regarded as the grandson of Okonkwo in “Things Fall Apart.” Obi Okonkwo is a well-educated man who studied in England and, after that, returned to the country and started working in the Civil Service. 

As Mazi Obi Okonkwo walks through his career in the civil service, it wasn’t an easy journey. He faced moral dilemmas, financial pressure, and the troubles of reconciling his Western educational values with traditional and cultural values. The challenges Obi Okonkwo faces internally and externally highlights the obstacles and complications of post-colonial Nigerian society. This book also contributes to the author’s exploration of the effects of colonialism and the struggles for cultural and moral integrity in the face of societal changes.

 3•     “Arrow of God” (1964)

ARROW OF GOD by Chinua Achebe Read by Peter Jay Fernandez | Audiobook Review | AudioFile Magazine

Chinua Achebe published this novel, “Arrow of God,” in 1964 after “No Longer at Ease”. It is the third book of Achebe’s African Trilogy, including “No Longer at Ease” and “Things Fall Apart.” The early 20th-century setting of the book looks deeper into how colonialism negatively affected the Igbos, a tribe in Nigeria.

In the made-up town of Umuaro, the story is centered around a man named Ezeulu, who is the high priest of the gods Ulu. The entrance of Christian missionaries and British colonial rulers caused political and social uproars that entrap respected spiritual leader Ezeulu.

The story looks at the detailed relationships between the Igbo people’s ancient religious beliefs and the raid of Christianity and colonial control. Tragic outcomes result for both Ezeulu and his community from his battle to uphold his god’s power in the face of outside pressure.

“Arrow of God” also digs deep into topics related to authority, accountability, and the conflict between religious and cultural beliefs. Achebe examines the difficulties faced by traditional leaders during a period of significant disruption and makes observations about the broader effects of colonialism on African societies via the lens of Ezeulu. Like Achebe’s previous writings, “Arrow of God” illustrates the challenges of cross-cultural relations and how people and societies react to them.

4•     “A Man Of The People” (1966)

A Man Of The People | Reapp.com.gh

A Man of the People” is a book by Chinua Achebe, which he published in 1966. The story was set in Nigeria and centered around the life of a man called Odili Samalu, who happened to be a young and vibrant teacher, and his interaction with a charismatic and corrupt politician named Chief Nanga.

The book examines Nigeria’s political climate at the time, criticizing the nepotism, corruption, and moral decline spreading throughout the recently established country as at that time. Originally depicted as a man of the people, Chief Nanga eventually represents the residents’ sense of deceit and despair.

Furthermore, this book offers a crucial stance on the difficulties African countries faced after colonial domination via the lens of comedy. The story emphasizes how, in the setting of postcolonial government, political power is used, and moral principles are compromised.

 5•    “Chike and the River” (1966)

The Purple Shelves Bookstore on X: "We're super grateful to our youngest donor Nwando for donating 20 copies of Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe to the Children's Library at the

Chinua Achebe wrote a children’s book, which he titled, “Chike and the River ”and was first published in 1966. This book is specially written for young readers, unlike other works from the author that are for middle age and tackle intricate social and political subjects.

In this story,  Chike, a small boy, has a fantasy of crossing the Niger River. One day, Chike embarked on a journey, encountering various people as well as obstacles. The spirit of exploration and wonder that Chike feels while he makes his way around the globe is captured in the book. In addition to being a captivating story, “Chike and the River” also includes various parts of Igbo culture and folklore. 

Furthermore, young readers are exposed to different parts of Nigerian life through Chike’s adventures, giving them a glimpse into the vibrant cultural fabric of the country, Nigeria. Despite being primarily aimed at younger readers, Achebe’s mind-blowing storytelling skills make the book enjoyable for all ages. “Chike and the River” is a timeless and noteworthy addition to African children’s literature, providing amusement and cultural understanding. It’s a popular book among schoolchildren in Nigeria and various parts of Africa.

 6•      “The Trouble With Nigeria” (1983)

Amazon.com: The Trouble with Nigeria: 9789781561474: Achebe, Chinua: Books

“The Trouble With Nigeria” is a novel by Chinua Achebe. He published the first edition in 1983. In this book, Achebe discusses various problems and difficulties Nigeria faces and are currently facing. Most times, when people look at the diverse things happening in the country, you remember the author. Chinua Achebe looked at so many things happening, including leadership, corruption, and social issues, while providing his perspectives on the underlying reasons for Nigeria’s problems.

Achebe criticizes Nigeria’s political and social climate in this book, a brief but impactful essay. He digs deep into the issues he sees in the nation and presents his ideas about what has to happen for Nigeria to overcome its obstacles. Notably, Achebe is renowned for his insightful and deep analysis of Nigerian society, and this book is only another illustration of his astute views.

7•      “Anthills of Savannah” (1987)

Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe | Goodreads

The “Anthills of Savannah” was first published in 1987 by Chinua Achebe. The novel explores the political and social issues that the citizens of Kangan, a fictional African nation, must deal with. The storyline is about the lives of three friends who become embroiled in their country’s political unrest. These friends are, Chris Oriko, Ikem Osodi, and Beatrice Okoh.

The story explores authority, corruption, and the fallout from totalitarian governance. The author offers a critical examination of post-colonial Africa and the fights for freedom and autonomous government through the characters and occurrences throughout the book. “Anthills of the Savannah” is regarded as one of Chinua Achebe’s notable compositions, contributing to his literary corpus.

8• “Hopes and Impediments” (1988)

Hopes and Impediments - Wikipedia

Chinua Achebe is the author of the collection of essays “Hopes and Impediments.” This is a collection of Achebe’s viewpoint and insightful pieces covering an extensive number of issues, and it was published in 1988. Achebe offers his thoughts on various topics while reflecting on literature, culture, politics, and society in these pieces.

‘Hopes and Impediments” delve into several important themes, such as the writer’s position in society, the effects of colonialism on African literature, the difficulties associated with cultural identity, and the intellectuals’ duties in tackling societal issues. Because of Achebe’s reputation for writing with clarity, honesty, and critical insight, readers interested in the relationship between literature and social issues may find this collection helpful.

The essays collected in “Hopes and Impediments” offer an improved understanding of Achebe’s thoughts on the African experience after colonialism and his concept of literature’s function in solving the problems that African countries face.

 9•   “There Was a Country” (2012)

REVIEW: ACHEBE'S 'THERE WAS A COUNTRY' IS A MUST-READ NARRATIVE OF THE BIAFRAN STORY – Words Rhymes & Rhythm

“There was a Country” is not just an ordinary book but one of the best books that Chinua Achebe wrote. This book was published in 2012, and the story centers around the Personal history of Biafra. Achebe considers the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970) and offers a firsthand story of his experiences during that tumultuous time in this novel. The conflict started when the Igbo-majority southeast of Nigeria declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a bloody civil war.

In “There Was a Country,” Achebe talks about the pre-war period, the conflict, and the aftermath. He shares his thoughts on the political and socioeconomic causes of the conflict, its effects on the Igbo people, and Nigeria’s overall consequences. The author’s experiences and views on an essential stage in Nigerian history are better understood by readers because of the book’s distinctive combination of firsthand story, historical research, and societal insight.

What Genre Does Chinua Achebe Specialize In?

Chinua Achebe is famous for his works within African Literature, mainly African Postcolonial literature. Also, His debut and most popular publication, “Things Fall Apart,” is under the historical fiction genre, and in that, he explored the effect of colonialism on the Igbo society in Nigeria.

What Was Chinua Achebe’s Debut Novel?

Chinua Achebe’s debut novel is the famous book “Things Fall Apart,” which he published in 1958. The story is turned classic in African literature, and it’s also the book that made the author famous.

When Did Chinua Achebe Die?

Author Chinua Achebe passed on after a brief illness on March 21, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, at the age of 82. Chinua Achebe’s loss was a great one for the African Literature community, Nigeria, and the World at large. He made a significant impact in African Literature, and he’s an icon to reckon with.

 

The key take away of this book

As a literature student or anyone who loves reading books on African literature genre or postcolonial stories, Chinua Achebe’s books should be your go, and we took our time to share a glimpse of what you are expected to find in the stories. The books are timeless stories and share great insights into colonization's effects. You should start reading them from “Things Fall Apart” to “No Longer at Ease, etc. Have a great time and don't forget to leave a comment.

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