Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Achebe was 28 when he wrote this seminal work of the incursion by the white man into a corner of what is now Nigeria towards the end of the 19th century. In spare, factual prose Achebe recounts the daily incidents of the lives of the indigenous Africans as they faithfully conduct their (often callous) rites and rituals and live their simple but united lives. The slow undoing of their culture and with it their cohesiveness by Christian missionaries is unemotionally but poignantly described. The book has achieved great fame and is still compulsory reading for every educated person, though there were times when our readers flagged at some of the repetitive detail.