Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe has died.
Penguin, Achebe’s publisher, confirmed his death at the age of 82 on Friday. Beyond confirmation of his death, Penguin did not release any other details. A spokeswoman said that the family would release a statement sometime today.
Achebe was a Nigerian novelist and poet, best known for his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart. Written in English, the novel was one of the first African novel to receive global critical acclaim and is widely read in both African and English-speaking schools around the world.
The novel is seen as a critique of British Colonialism and studies the effects of it, along with Christian missionary evangelism, on the Igbo people in the late nineteenth century. It focuses on the clash between Western and traditional Igbo values and told the story of colonialism for the very first time from the African perspective.
It has sold over 10 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages. Nelson Mandela credited Achebe for bringing “Africa to the rest of the world” and called him “the writer in whose company the prison walls came down.”
Achebe authored more than 20 books in his lifetime and won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction in 2007.
“We are saddened by the death of the ‘Father of African literature’ Chinua Achebe,” said Random House’s Vintage and Anchor Books publicity director Russell Perreault. He then recited a memorable quote from Achebe, “If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”
“We are grateful that he told his story and left us with a legacy of great literature and a better understanding of Africa,” Perreault concluded.
At the time of his death, Achebe was working as a professor of Africana studies at Brown University. He was also the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College for over 15 years.
He is survived by his wife and four children.
“He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,” said his agent, Andrew Wylie.