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Chinua Achebe- Brief Bio

Chinua Achebe was Africa’s best-known novelist and the founding father of African fiction born on 16th November, 1930. Achebe was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe in the Igbo village of Ogidi. The publication of his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958 not only contested European narratives about Africans but also challenged traditional assumptions about the form and function of the novel. His creation of a hybrid that combined oral and literary modes, and his refashioning of the English languages to convey Igbo voices and concepts, established a model and an inspiration for other novelists throughout the African continent. The five novels and the short stories he published between 1958 and 1987 provide a chronicle of Nigeria’s troubled history since the beginning of British colonial rule. Achebe frequently includes folk songs and descriptions of dancing in his work. His short stories are not widely studied as his novels. In the preface for Girls at war and Other Stories, he writes: “A dozen pieces in twenty years must be accounted a pretty lean harvest by any reckoning.” Like his novels, the short stories are heavily influenced by the oral traditional.

Achebe seeks to portray neither moral absolutes nor a fatalistic inevitability. He believed that his works and literary crusade offered a view “from the inside” and writers have a responsibility to address social maladies. Achebe has been called “the father of modern African writing” and Africa’s greatest storyteller, and many books and essays have been written about his work over the past fifty years. Nelson Mandela, recalling his time as a political prisoner, once referred to Achebe as a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down” and that his work Things Fall Apart inspired him to continue the struggle to end apartheid. Achebe asserts that Europeans “create art for art’s sake” whereas African art exists as an inherent component of society. He is the founder and editor of two journals, a novelist, poet, essayist, and lecturer. Over the years, he has spoken and lectured extensively throughout the United States. Achebe’s other work include Girls at War (1972), Arrow of God (1964), No Longer at Ease (1960) etc…he received numerous honours from all around the world, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honorary doctorates from more than 30 colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize. He died on 22nd March 2013 at the age of 82.

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