Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1959
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, EEPA EECL 7036, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
He invited readers to empathize with places once outside the reach of English literature.
If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.
—Chinua Achebe, interview in The Paris Review, 1994
Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to freedom of the human spirit—in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.
—Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah, 1984
• Africa’s most widely read and celebrated novelist, Achebe cemented his reputation with Things Fall Apart (1958), which sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages.
• Writing from an unabashedly specific, African point of view, Achebe’s novels critiqued both colonial arrogance and the failures of postcolonial governments.
• In his lifetime, Achebe was granted more than 30 honorary degrees from universities in the United States, Europe, and Africa and awarded the Man Booker International Prize as well as honorary memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Nigerian National Order of Merit.