Bard Professor Chinua Achebe Wins Prestigious Booker International Prize

Archive by Erudera News Jun 13, 2007

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ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y., June 13, 2007 —Chinua Achebe, Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, has been awarded the 2007 Man Booker International Prize. He is the second recipient of the award, which is awarded once every two years to a living author for a body of work that has contributed to an achievement in fiction on the world stage. It was first awarded to Ismail Kadaré in 2005.

Achebe is probably best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart, written in 1958, and Anthills of the Savannah, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1987. He will receive the prize of £60,000 ($118,368) and a trophy at the award ceremony on June 28, 2007 at, Christ Church in Oxford.

“It was 50 years ago this year that I began writing my first novel, Things Fall Apart, ,” says Achebe. “It is wonderful to hear that my peers have looked at the body of work I have put together in the last 50 years and judged it deserving deserving of this important recognition. I am grateful.”

Many African writers have been inspired by Achebe’s work. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who won the Orange Prize for Fiction last week for Half A Yellow Sun, is one of them, recently commenting: “He is a remarkable man—the writer and the man. He’s what I think writers should be.”

“Chinua Achebe’s novels describing the effects of Western customs and values on traditional African society have made him one of the most highly esteemed African writers in English,” states Harvey McGrath, chairman of Man Group PLC. “We are delighted to honor him as the recipient of the second Man Booker International Prize.”

The judging panel for the 2007 Man Booker International Prize were Professor Elaine Showalter, academic and author; Nadine Gordimer, writer and novelist; and writer and academic Colm Tóibín.

“As one of the most important literary figures of his generation, Chinua Achebe richly deserves this most prestigious international award,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “His contributions to literature are immeasurable, and it is an extraordinary privilege to have him teaching here at Bard.”


About Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe born November 16, 1930, and educated at Government College in Umuahia and at University College of Ibadan, Nigeria. He received a B.A. from London University in 1953 and in 1956 studied broadcasting in London at the BBC. He joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Company in Lagos in 1954, later becoming its director of external broadcasting. During the Civil War in Nigeria he worked for the Biafran government service. After the war he was appointed senior research fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, of which he is now emeritus professor of English. He has lectured at many universities worldwide, served as McMillan-Stewart Lecturer at Harvard and Presidential Fellow Lecturer at the World Bank (both 1998). Since 1990, he has been Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.

Achebe’s work is primarily centered on African politics, the depiction of Africa and Africans in the West, and the intricacies of precolonial African culture and civilization, as well as the effects of colonialization on African societies. Things Fall Apart was published in 1958, and is considered among the finest novels ever written. Having sold over 10 million copies around the world, it has been translated into 50 languages, making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time. He is the recipient of over 30 honorary degrees, as well as numerous awards for his work. In 2004, Achebe declined to accept the title of Commander of the Federal Republic—Nigeria’s second highest honor—in protest over the state of affairs in his native country. Paralyzed from the waist down in a 1990 car accident, he is married to Christi Chinwe Achebe, visiting professor of psychology at Bard, with whom he has four children.

Works by Achebe:

Novels

Things Fall Apart 1958

No Longer at Ease 1960

Arrow of God 1964

A Man of the People 1966

Chike and the River 1966

Anthills of the Savannah 1988

Short Stories

The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories 1962

Civil Peace 1971

Girls at War and Other Stories 1973

African Short Stories (editor, with C. L. Innes) 1985

Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (editor, with C. L. Innes) 1992

Poetry

Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems 1971 published in the US as Christmas at Biafra, and Other Poems, 1973

Don’t let him die: An anthology of memorial poems for Christopher Okigbo (editor, with Dubem Okafor) 1978

Another Africa 1998

Collected Poems 2004

Essays, Criticism, and Political Commentary

An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” 1975

Morning Yet on Creation Day 1975

The Trouble with Nigeria 1984

Hopes and Impediments 1988

Home and Exile 2000

Children’s Books

Dead Men’s Path 1972

How the Leopard Got His Claws (with John Iroaganachi) 1972

The Flute 1975

The Drum 1978

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