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Chinua Achebe
(1930 -    )

The novelist Chinua Achebe, a fine stylish and an astute social critic, is one of the best-known African writers in the West and his novels are often assigned in university courses.

Nigerian novelist and poet, whose works explore the impact of European culture on African society. Achebe's unsentimental, often ironic books vividly convey the traditions and speech of the Ibo people. Born in Ogidi, Nigeria, Achebe was educated at the University College of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan).

He subsequently taught at various universities in Nigeria and the United States. Achebe wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), partly in response to what he saw as inaccurate characterizations of Africa and Africans by British authors. The book describes the effects on Ibo society of the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries in the late 1800s.

Achebe's subsequent novels No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) are set in Africa and describe the struggles of the African people to free themselves from European political influences. During Nigeria's tumultuous political period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Achebe became politically active. Most of his literary works of this time address Nigeria's internal conflict (see Nigeria, Federal Republic of: Civil War). These books include the volumes of poetry Beware, Soul Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973), the short-story collection Girls at War (1972), and the children's book How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972).

In 1971 Achebe helped to found the influential literary magazine Okike. His other writings include the essay collections Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975), which he later expanded under the title Hopes and Impediments (1988); and The Trouble with Nigeria (1983).

"Achebe, Chinua," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 96 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. (c) Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.

Books and Date Originally Published

Things Fall Apart, 1958
No Longer at Ease, 1960
The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories, 1962
Arrow of God, 1964
A Man of the People, 1966
Chike and the River, 1966
Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems, 1971
How the Leopard Got His Claws (with John Iroaganachi), 1972
Girls at War, 1973
Christmas at Biafra, and Other Poems, 1973
Morning Yet on Creation Day, 1975
The Flute, 1975
The Drum, 1978
Don't Let Him Die: An Anthology of Memorial Poems for Christofer Okigbo (editor with Dubem Okafor), 1978
Aka Weta: An Anthology of Igbo Poetry (co-editor), 1982
The Trouble With Nigeria, 1984
African Short Stories, 1984
Anthills of the Savannah, 1988
Hopes and Impediments, 1988

  Things Fall Apart One of Chinua Achebe's many achievements in his acclaimed first novel, Things Fall Apart, is his relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain,... Read more

  Anthills of the Savannah Using the conflict between the city and tribal villages, the ravages of the great African drought, and Third World politics as a compelling backdrop, Achebe weaves a potent drama of modern Africa, ... Read more

  No Longer at Ease The sequel to the classic, Things Fall Apart, tells of a troubled young African whose formal education separates him from his roots and makes him part of a corrupt ruling elite he despises. Reprint. Read more

  Arrow of God Set in the Ibo heartland of eastern Nigeria, one of Africa's best-known writers describes the conflict between old and new in its most poignant aspect: the personal struggle between father and son. Read more

  Things Fall Apart (Everyman's Library) One of the most widely read novels from Nigeria's most famous novelist. Things Fall Apart is a gripping study of the problem of European colonialism in Africa. The story relates the cultural collision that occurs when Christian English missionaries arrive among the Ibos of Nigeria, bringing along... Read more

  A Man of the People By the renowned author of Things Fall Apart, this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds. Read more

  African Short Stories (African Writers Series, No 270) Chinua Achebe has joined with C.L. Innes, co-editor of Okike, to select stories of excellence from the writings of the last twenty-five years. While many of the established names such as Sembene Ousmane, Ngugi, and Bessie Head are to be found, the collection is refreshing for the inclusion of work... Read more

  Hopes and Impediments : Selected Essays I read this as part of my required summer reading for my AP English class, and I have only previously encountered Achebe's work in Things Fall Apart. This collection of essays is often thought-provoking, quite debatable, and never dull. In his opening essay on racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness,... Read more

  Girls at War : And Other Stories Twelve stories by the internationally renowned novelist which recreate with energy and authenticity the major social and political issues that confront contemporary Africans on a daily basis. Read more

articles and reviews

G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
"I will go back as soon as I can," said Chinua Achebe, the noted Nigerian novelist, who has been teaching at Bard since 1990.

from THE NEW YORK TIMES - January 20, 2000

Chinua Achebe: A Storyteller Far From Home



To be human, the writer Chinua Achebe has said, one must have a story. "It's one of the things humans do," he insists. "Not just have a story, but tell a story."


For more than four decades Mr. Achebe, the man widely regarded as the progenitor of the modern African novel and the author of the groundbreaking 1958 book "Things Fall Apart," has been telling the story of his native Nigeria, before and after its encounter with European colonialism.





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