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Chinua Achebe

David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) is known the world over for having played a germinal role in the founding and development of African literature. He is considered among the most significant world writers. He is most well known for the groundbreaking 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, a novel still considered to be required reading the world over. It has sold over twelve million copies and has been translated into more than fifty languages.

Professor Achebe's global significance lies not only in his talent and recognition as a writer, but also as a critical thinker and essayist who has written extensively on questions of the role of culture in Africa and the social and political significance of aesthetics and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa. He is renowned, for example, for "An Image of Africa," his trenchant and famous critique of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Today, this critique is recognized as one of the most generative interventions on Conrad; and one that opened the social study of literary texts, particularly the impact of power relations on 20th century literary imagination.

In addition, Professor Achebe is distinguished in his substantial and weighty investment in the building of literary arts institutions. His work as the founding editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series led to his editing over one hundred titles in it. Achebe also edited the University of Nsukka journal Nsukkascope, founded Okike: A Nigerian Journal of New Writing and assisted in the founding of a publishing house, Nwamife Books–an organization responsible for publishing other groundbreaking work by award-winning writers.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, 2010
  • Man Booker International Award, 2007
  • 1st Living Author presented in the Everyman's Library collection by Alfred A. Knopf, 1992
  • Rockefeller Fellowship, 1960
  • UNESCO Fellowship for Creative Artists, 1960
  • Margaret Wrong Prize
  • The New Statesman Jock Campbell Prize
  • The Commonwealth Poetry Prize


  • Anthills of the Savanna (Anchor Press, 1987)
  • A Man of the People (Anchor Press, 1966)
  • Arrow of God (Anchor Press, 1964)
  • No Longer At Ease (Anchor Press, 1960)
  • Things Fall Apart (Anchor Press, 1958)

Selected Essays:

  • "2009 Blessed Pope John XXIII Lecture Series" in Theology and Culture (University of Notre Dame, Forthcoming)
  • "The Igbo and their Perception of God, Human Beings and Creation" (2009)
  • "Education of a British Protected Child" (Alfred A Knopf, 2009)
  • "Home and Exile" (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Beyond hunger in Africa: Conventional Wisdom and an African Vision (Heinemann; J. Currey, 1990)
  • "Nigerian Topics" (1989)
  • "The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics" (Abic Books & Equipment, 1988)
  • "Hopes and Impediments" (Doubleday, 1988)
  • "The World of Ogbanje" (Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1986)
  • "The Trouble With Nigeria" (Heinemann, 1983)
  • "Morning Yet on Creation Day" (Anchor Press, 1975)


  • The Voter (Viva Books, 1994)
  • Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (Heinemann, 1992)
  • African Short Stories (Heinemann, 1985)
  • Girls at War and Other Stories (Doubleday, 1973)
  • The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (Etudo, 1962)


  • Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2005)
  • Another Africa (Anchor Press, 1998)
  • Don't Let Him Die: An Anthology of Memorial Poems for Christopher Okigbo (Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1978)
  • Christmas in Biafra and Other Poems (Doubleday, 1973)
  • Beware, Soul Brother (Heinemann Educational, 1972)


  • The Flute (Fourth Dimension, 1977)
  • The Drum (Fourth Dimension, 1977)
  • How The Leopard Got His Claws (Third Press, 1973)
  • Chike and the River (Cambridge University Press, 1966)