Achebe inspired generations of Nigerian writers

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm •  Published: March 22, 2013
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Among those influenced by Achebe was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who won the Orange Prize for Fiction for "Half of a Yellow Sun."

On Friday, she released an elegy she had written for Achebe in the Igbo language.

"Something has happened. Something big has happened. Chinua Achebe is gone. A great writer, a man of great wisdom, a man of good heart," she wrote.

"Who are we going to boast about? Who are we going to take out to the world? Who is going to guide us? A storm has passed! Tears fill my eyes.

"Chinua Achebe, go in peace. It is well with you. Go in peace."

Nigerian novelist Lola Shoneyin, whose works include "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives," says Achebe's fiction gives her something new each time she reads his work.

"In the last five decades, just about every post-colonial African author, one way or another, has been engaged in a creative call-and-response with Chinua Achebe," she said.

Igoni Barrett, the author of a collection of stories called "From Caves of Rotten Teeth," said Achebe had achieved a "saintly status among Nigerian writers" through his pioneering involvement in the African Writers Series.

"Chinua Achebe was an inspiration to me not only for his singular talent and his dedication to truth in art and life, but also because he had the fortitude to overcome the countless disappointments of the Nigerian state," he said.

One of Senegal's best-known novelists, 66-year-old Boubacar Boris Diop, was in high school when he read "Things Fall Apart." He says that in it, he found "the real Africa."

"I systematically advise young authors to read Chinua Achebe. I've often bought copies of 'Things Fall Apart' and offered them to young writers. It's well written — in the sense that it's not written at all. In it, you won't find any great lyrical phrases. That's the great force of this book. It's written in simple language," said Diop.

"He wrote about a continent that is far from perfect, but which at the same time has things within it that fill you with wonder."

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Larson reported from Dakar Senegal. Associated Press writer Rukmini Callimachi also contributed to this report.