Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. This, his debut novel, is often considered his best and is the most widely read book in modern African literature. He won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.
A compelling story of one man’s battle to protect his community against the forces of change. Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart. Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance, he can only hurtle towards tragedy. First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe’s stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.
The author of more than twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – Achebe received numerous honours from around the world, including honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. He died in 2013.
When compared to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it’s ‘A great book, that bespeaks a great, brave, kind, human spirit’ so said John Updike. Whereas, none other than Nelson Mandela said that Achebe was “the writer in whose company the prison walls fell down”
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