He carried the torch for Nigerian literature, given his Ogidi roots, and was given the country’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award, and received other honors, including the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.
An author of more than 20 novels, Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” was the most popular, selling over ten million copies around the world and was translated into dozens of languages. The book, set in precolonial Nigeria, tells the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who dealt with the struggle of maintaining his African identity despite British colonizers invading the country.
“In all Achebe’s writing there is an intense moral energy,” says Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy at Princeton, in a commentary published in 2000. “He speaks about the task of the writer in language that captures the sense of threat and loss that must have faced many Africans as empire invaded and disrupted their lives.”
His death was announced by Brown University, where he had been on faculty since 2009.