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Renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has died at age 82. He was one of Africa’s most acclaimed authors, thanks to his groundbreaking debut novel Things Fall Apart.
His agent, Andrew Wylie, released a short statement to The Associated Press confirming his death after a short illness. “He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,” Wylie added.
Things Fall Apart was first published in 1958 and dealt with colonialism and its impact in Africa, notes The BBC. He had been living in the U.S. since the ‘90s, but the statement did not confirm where he died.
Achebe wrote over 20 works and was critical of the current political situation in his native Nigeria. In 2007, he received the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for his work. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer dubbed him the “father of modern African literature.”
“It would be impossible to say how Things Fall Apart influenced African writing,” scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah noted, reports the AP. “It would be like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians. Achebe didn't only play the game, he invented it.”
Achebe, who worked as a professor in the U.S. after moving here, published a memoir on the 1967 Biafran war last year.
The BBC notes that the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory sent its condolences to Achebe’s family.