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.

Leave a Comment

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until approved.

Comments (9)

A great teacher and a compelling story teller who conveyed to the world Africa's many stories. He certainly will be missed.

Posted by: Anthony Fraser | Tuesday March 26, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Things Fall Apart was an eye opener for me into African Literature. Through it I learnt not only about pre-colonial tribal life in Africa but also free expression and personal craftsmanship. Bye bye Chinwa Achebe!

Posted by: Dr. John Mugabushaka | Monday March 25, 2013 at 8:36 PM


Posted by: ROSSIE | Monday March 25, 2013 at 4:14 PM

May you rest in peace. An amazing writer who wrote for the whole Africa.

Posted by: Erina | Monday March 25, 2013 at 4:08 AM

Rest in peace Mr. Achebe, you were the Mandella of Literature: A Lion.

Posted by: J. Bernard Denis | Sunday March 24, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Things Fall Apart was my favor Literature during my high school. Rest in peace

Posted by: you will be remember for the books and knowledge you leave it to generations. Rest in peace | Sunday March 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM

My fav author from my high school literature class, he will be missed.

Posted by: Tj | Friday March 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM

It is a very sad loss.
Rest in peace.

Posted by: Akwataghibe | Friday March 22, 2013 at 12:32 PM

I have multiple copies of all this marvelous author's works. We will all miss him terribly. Very sad...

Posted by: Jan Weisenborn | Friday March 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking


Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards


Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube