Chinua Achebe 1930–
(Born Albert Chinualumogu) Nigerian novelist, poet, short story writer, and essayist. See also Chinua Achebe Criticism (Volume 1), and Volumes 3, 5, 7, 11, 127.
Achebe is considered one of the finest of contemporary African writers. In his novels he explores traditional tribal values and the cultural changes resulting from European colonization. To present these themes, Achebe fuses ancient proverbs and idioms of his native Ibo people with the political ideologies and Christian doctrines emerging in modern Nigeria.
Achebe's first novel, Things Fall Apart, is praised by Charles R. Larson as "the archetypal African novel" because it traces the beginnings of European colonization in Nigeria and the developing conflict between tribal and Christian cultures. Arrow of God examines the breakdown and inevitable failure of traditional tribal customs in resisting colonial rule. No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People discuss the materialistic influence of Western culture on Nigeria's youth and the corrupt forces behind the country's victory as an independent state.
Achebe's writings in other genres also reveal the turmoil of Nigeria. Christmas in Biafra and Other Poems is highly regarded for its ironic simplicity in describing the anguish of the Nigerian civil war. Girls at War and Other Stories bitterly reflects a disillusionment with war and nationalism.
Commenting on his work, Achebe has stated that a writer in an emergent nation could not afford to pass up the opportunity to educate his fellow countrymen. Despite this urgency to teach, however, Achebe's work is also considered by most critics to be good reading.