When Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart 50 years ago, he did not have any idea that the novel would gain the influence that has made it a towering influence in African literature. The novel has sold over 11 million copies worldwide and has been translated in over a dozen languages. Considered by many a rich introduction to African literature, the novel has touched the lives of many worldwide.
Peter Monaghan, a correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the event marking the 50th Anniversary in New York City. Achebe is reported to have said: “I was alone in my room, scribbling away, and if nobody had paid any attention at all to me, I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised.”
“Things Fall Apart does not idealize Nigerians; far from it. In Okonkwo, for example, Achebe depicts courage and nobility but also ignorance and cruelty. The mighty Okonkwo beats his wives and kills a child. Fellow villagers leave twin infants in the bush to die because twins are considered evil, and mutilate the bodies of dead children so that their ogbanje, or spirits, do not return to torment their mothers again,” Monoghan writes.