Bard Professor Chinua Achebe Named Winner of the Prestigious Booker International Prize
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—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 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 Christie Chinwe Achebe, visiting professor of psychology at Bard, with whom he has four children.
Works by Achebe:
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
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
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
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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This event was last updated on 10-27-2008