“Chinua Achebe, African Literary Titan, Dies at 82

The New York Times published this extended obituary the day after Achebe’s death. In addition to offering a remembrance of his life, the obituary provides an overview of his work. Words from several prominent African writers and academics indicate just how highly respected Achebe remains in the context of African literature.

“The Amazing Story Behind Things Fall Apart

David Haglund wrote this short essay for Slate recounting the story of how Achebe’s landmark novel almost didn’t see the light of day. Haglund explains how Achebe sent the only-existing, handwritten copy of the manuscript to London to be typed. For months Achebe languished in uncertainty, not knowing the fate of his first novel.

“After Empire: Chinua Achebe and the Great African Novel”

This essay by Ruth Franklin appeared in New Yorker magazine in 2008, five years before Achebe’s death. In the essay, Franklin provides an overview of Achebe’s literary coming-of-age. She also discusses his complex relationship to other African writers from the same generation, with particular regard to his views on the English language and the role of novelists in society.

“Achebe Discusses Africa 50 Years after Things Fall Apart

Originally produced in 2008 for the television program PBS News Hour, this segment features a 9-minute interview with Achebe conducted by Jeffrey Brown. Achebe recounts some of the social and historical contexts that inspired him to write his novel fifty years prior, and he also discusses some of the effects the novel had, both in Nigeria and in Africa more broadly.

“An African Voice”

Katie Bacon conducted this extended interview with Achebe for The Atlantic in 2000. Although Bacon’s interview begins in the usual way, by talking about Things Fall Apart and Achebe’s role in the genesis of African literature in English, the scope of the discussion quickly widens to include Achebe’s views on other African writers as well as contemporary Nigerian politics

“The Achievement of Chinua Achebe”

Preeminent philosopher and scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses Achebe’s “African Trilogy,” which begins with Things Fall Apart and continues with No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God. Understanding how Things Fall Apart fits within this trilogy enables students to get a sense of Achebe’s broader vision as a novelist.