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RIP Chinua Achebe, Author Of ‘Things Fall Apart’ & A Legend Of African Literature
March 22, 2013
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Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has died. He was 82.

Achebe was one of the greats: his novel 'Things Fall Apart', which was published more than 50 years ago, had an enormous impact on African literature.

For an idea of how influential the novel and its author are, check out this quote from African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah:

"It would be impossible to say how 'Things Fall Apart' influenced African writing," he wrote. "It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians.

"Achebe didn't only play the game, he invented it."

Achebe spoke with CNN back in 2009. Check out that interview, and the author reading from 'Things Fall Apart', in the video below:

'Things Fall Apart', which takes its name from the William Butler Yeats poem 'The Second Coming', is about the effect of British colonialism on a Nigerian tribesman.

The novel tells the story of European colonialism from an African perspective, making it "a universally acknowledged starting point for postcolonial, indigenous African fiction, the prophetic union of British letters and African oral culture," writes the Associated Press.

Achebe regularly shared his views on African politics and life. Here he is talking to PBS Newshour about the state of Africa 50 years after the publication of 'Things Fall Apart':

Achebe was born in 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. His parents were members of the Protestant Church Mission Society, but they continued to respect the religion of their ancestors, giving Achebe an insight into two different faiths.

He was educated at Nigeria's first university, University College (now the University of Ibadan), and in 1958, he published 'Things Fall Apart'. The first run of the novel was 2,000 copies; it's sold 8 million more since then, and been translated into more than 50 languages.

He wrote four more novels - 'No Longer at Ease' and 'Arrow of God' were both seen as sequels to 'Things Fall Apart'. His two other novels were 'A Man of the People' and 'Anthills of the Savannah'. The latter book was published in 1987 - it was the last novel he would release in his lifetime.

A car accident in 1990 left him permanently paralyzed from the waste down, and he said physical problems and living away from Nigeria stifled his imagination later in life.

Achebe lived through some revolutionary changes in his home country, as Nigeria transitioned from independence to dictatorship in the late 1960s.

Because of turbulent political conditions at home, Achebe spent most of his adult life in the United States, but he consistently called for a return to democracy in his native country, and refused to accept any literary honours from the Nigerian government.

In 2007, he received the Man Book International Prize, a $120,000 honour for lifetime achievement. And in 2009, Achebe became a professor of language and literature at Brown University.

As well as a talented writer, Achebe was also a loving father, grandfather, and husband, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie.


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