'Father of modern African literature' Achebe, 82, dies after short illness
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Friday 22 March 2013
Chinua Achebe, described as the “father of modern African literature” who inspired generations of writers across the continent, has died at the age of 82.
The Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart, considered the essential novel on African identity and nationalism, passed away at a hospital in the US city of Boston after a brief illness.
In a statement, his family said: “One of the great literary voices of his time, he was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Achebe moved to the US for treatment after a car accident left him paralysed in 1990 and since 2009 had been a professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize, where judge Nadine Gordimer dubbed him the “father of modern African literature”.
He received a string of literary honours and prizes throughout his career including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, honorary fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Unesco fellowship for creative artists. He became the first living author to be represented in the Everyman’s Library collection.
Achebe was born in 1930, in Igboland, a region in south east Nigeria. He discovered the power of fiction at University College, Ibadan, where he read the novel Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary, which depicted Africans as “jealous savages”. He set about challenging the literary trope that painted the Africans as “unhuman”.
Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and was one of the first novels to chronicle Africa from an African viewpoint. The novel, set in the 1890s, follows Okonkwo, a yam farmer in a fictional Nigerian village and tracks the effects of British colonialism and Christian missionaries.
Fans ranged from novelist Margaret Atwood and poet Maya Angelou, to Nelson Mandela, who called Achebe a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down”.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland