Chinua Achebe, Nigerian-born novelist and poet speaks about his works and his life at his home on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. January 2008. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP

Chinua Achebe


Born in Ogidi, a village in Nigeria, Chinua Achebe studied at University College (now the University of Ibadan). His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read work of African fiction and has sold more than 12 million copies. It has been translated into 50 languages. His other prominent works include No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah.

For many decades, Achebe has worked to build greater understanding of Africa through his creative writing, commentary and social critique. Formerly the editor of the African Writers Series for Heinemann Publishing, he is the author of numerous collections of short stories, poetry and essays.

Achebe is the recipient of numerous honors. He was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for outstanding fiction in 2007. Among his more than 40 honorary degrees is a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Brown University, where he is the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies and oversees the Chinua Achebe Colloquium on Africa, an initiative in keeping with his life’s work to foster greater knowledge of Africa. Achebe also taught at Bard College for 19 years, where he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature.

In November 2011, Achebe declined the Nigerian government’s offer to name him a Commander of the Federal Republic for a second time (he initially refused the national honor in 2004), in protest against what he sees as persistent corruption and lawlessness under the country’s current leadership.