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'Things Fall Apart' author Chinua Achebe has died

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com
'Things Fall Apart' author Chinua Achebe has died
Chinua Achebe speaking in Buffalo in 2008. (CC/Stuart C. Shapiro/UPI)

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has died at age 82, his British publisher, Penguin Books, confirmed to The Guardian Friday. Born in Nigeria in 1930, Achebe was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria.

"Things Fall Apart" was his first novel, published in 1958, and remains his most acclaimed work. He is considered to be the father of modern African literature, and much of his work explores the European colonial and Christian impact on African traditions.

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He left his job in radio in 1966 during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War, in which Nigeria's southeastern provinces attempted to secede. Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on diplomatic missions before the civil war ended over two years later.

He then taught at universities in Nigeria and overseas, including Bard College in New York and Brown University in Rhode Island. Achebe is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States.

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A novelist, essayist, poet, professor and critic, his honors included the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He was also awarded his country's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.

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He twice refused the Nigerian honor Commander of the Federal Republic stating:

"I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency."

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Achebe's 2012 memoir, "There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra," details his memories and thoughts on the Nigerian Civil War.

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