Chinua Achebe and Chris Abani

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chinua Achebe has been called the father of modern African literature. He’s here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his famous novel, Things Fall Apart. And the acclaimed young Nigerian novelist Chris Abani talks about Achebe's influence on his own work.

Event: Chinua Achebe, Chris Abani, Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Edwidge Danticat, and Ha Jin will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart
Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8 pm
Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
Presented by the PEN American Center
Tickets and info at, or call (212) 840-2824

Weigh in: What's your favorite work of modern African literature?


Chris Abani and Chinua Achebe

Comments [2]

tom7tom7 from NYC

I've read Things Fall Apart many times, last about 3 years ago. With each read more relevance comes forward and it’s written in a splendent unique way. Learning about a pre-western culture, seeing how human, organized and intelligent they/we were is a special insight. The main character is a real person not a “noble savage”, a flawed tough guy with hang-ups we can recognize as universally human.

The submission of one culture by another is so well crafted. First as just a few small mentions of the new power at the story’s margins that by the end are a roar of control and influence over virtually everything. I realized this is an example of something that has happen countless times over the history of human existence: the Norman conquest, Ghengis Chan, homo sapiens vs. Neanderthals.

Mr. Achebe raises an interesting question about the nature of the take-over advantage and maybe a key to further change or even a reversal. If I remember correctly there’s a passage where a minister and native priest compare the Igbo religion and culture to European showing so many equivalents. But the Europeans have some advantage. Is it the guns? But the guns are a signifier of other currents in the culture. Perhaps it is that some how the west has attained the ability and a drive to look into the structure of the world, not to accept a supposition about it. I don’t know but maybe when the space ships come overhead we’ll get a chance to see it again.

Feb. 27 2008 01:51 PM
a. hammagaadji from new york

I first read Things Fall Apart at aged 14 and it still has a hold on my imagination up to today. I have reread it several times. It is the germinal work of modern African literature and is still influencing the youngest Nigerian writers today such as Chimananda Ngozi Adichie and Udozinma Iweala.

As for my favourite work of modern African literature? That would be "l'Etrange destin de Wangrin" by Amadou Hampaté Bâ. Also set in the colonial era, this time in the French Soudan, but less tragic. The protagonist is cleverer than the colonialists and wins. Also,"Emperor Shaka the Great" by Masizi Kunéné. The rythmn! The measure! The poetry. A work of art without peer.

Feb. 26 2008 11:05 PM

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