'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”.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss