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16 November 1930
21 March 2013
Writer and teacher
16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013
Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic who is regarded as the dominant figure of modern African literature. His first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), occupies a pivotal place in African literature and remains the most widely studied, translated and read African novel. He is often referred to as the "father of African literature", although he vigorously rejected the characterization.
Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
Among the many themes Achebe's works cover are culture and colonialism, masculinity and femininity, politics, and history. His works grappled with the reality of British imperialism’s effect on Nigerian traditions and customs. He discussed in frank terms the destructive and often violent effect that external impositions have on indigenous people, challenging the prevailing narrative of his time that Westernization was a positive, necessary process.
The style of Achebe's fiction draws heavily on the oral tradition of the Igbo people. He incorporates folk tales into his stories, exposing community values in both the content and the form of the storytelling. Achebe used proverbs to describe the values of the rural Igbo tradition. He includes them throughout the narratives, repeating points made in conversation.
Achebe is regarded as the most dominant and influential writer of modern African literature. Things Fall Apart has been described as the most important book in modern African literature. Selling over 20 million copies worldwide, it has been translated into 57 languages, making Achebe the most translated, studied and read African author. His legacy as a writer is particularly unique in regards to its substantial impact on not only African literature, but European literature as well.
“If you don't like someone's story, write your own.”
“The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place.”
“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”
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