Chinua Achebe, Author of Landmark "Things Fall Apart" (1930-2013)

AchebeNigerian-born author Chinua Achebe--a novelist, poet, essayist, lecturer, and one of the fathers of modern African literature--died early today following a brief illness. He was 82.

Achebe, who wrote in English and had been living in the United States in recent years, is best known for his fictional portrayals of the Nigerian village life in which he was raised. A longtime political activist, he also wrote frequently about the befores and afters of British colonialism in Africa, and its effect on the culture and traditions of the continent.

Among his many awards, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2007. He had been teaching in recent years at Brown University and Bard College.

His most recent book, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, was pubished in late 2012. It is a memoir of Achebe's coming of age as Nigeria emerged as an independent nation, only to watch his homeland wrenched apart by a brutal civil war.

ThingsFallAchebe is best know for his landmark debut, Things Fall Apart, one of the most widely read and highly acclaimed works of African literature, which inspired a generation of West African writers.

Published to immediate acclaim (and some controversy) in 1958--just two years before Nigeria's independence from Britain--Things Fall Apart has sold millions of copies in more than 40 different languages. The story of Okonkwo, a flawed but sympathetic villager who becomes a succesful farmer and champion wrestler--whose "whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness"--Things Fall Apart unsentimentally depicts pre-colonial Nigerian tribal life.

With no access to a typewriter, Achebe wrote the manuscript in longhand, and sent his only copy to a London company that offered typing services. The company almost lost the manuscript, before it was rescued by a friend and eventually sent to a publisher, which printed 2,000 copies in 1958. 

>See all of Chinua Achebe's books.

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