Albert Chinualumogu Achebe is a Nigerian novelist and author of the most widely read novel in African literature, Things Fall Apart. Popularly known as Chinua Achebe, he won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007. He gained worldwide recognition for his novel, Things Fall Apart, in the 1950’s, and his later works include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).
Achebe was a Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in New York, and he was a David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of African Studies at Brown University in Rhode Island. Achebe has been called “the father of modern African writing” and Africa’s foremost storyteller.
There are numerous commentaries, essays, and books about his works. Achebe was the first living writer to be represented in the Everyman’s Library collection published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1992. Chinua Achebe is the recipient of 30 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, and the United States, including Dartmouth College, Harvard, and Brown University, among others.
Chinua Achebe received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1982), Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), the Nigerian National Order of Merit, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Man Booker International Prize (2007) and the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. He was also appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Population Fund in 1999.
Achebe has influenced the younger generation of African writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and many others. He is considered the father of modern African literature because of his distinctive style of prose. He tells African stories from an African philosophical perspective that is rooted in the traditions and cultures of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria.
On February 26, 2008, PEN American Center hosted a tribute to Nigerian writer and literary luminary Chinua Achebe at the 50th anniversary of his novel, Things Fall Apart. The event was attended by Chris Abani, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Michael Cunningham, Edwidge Danticat, Suheir Hammad, Ha Jin, Colum McCann, and Toni Morrison in New York.
[Featured Image by Craig Ruttle/AP Images]