Achebe's literary agent Andrew Wylie announced Friday that the author had died after a brief illness. He declined to provide further details.
Achebe was a professor of Africana studies at Brown. He came to live in the U.S. in the 1990s after being injured in an automobile accident. He had previously been a professor at Bard College in New York.
"Things Fall Apart" was not without its critics. Some
Achebe was a dedicated political thinker, a public intellectual who worked at the nexus of art and politics. His critique of
That critical mind remained sharply tuned to the world around him. As changes in Africa seesawed between triumph and tragedy, Achebe kept a keen eye out for abuses of power. In a 2010 lecture at
At a 2010 Brown colloquium on Africa, Achebe spoke openly of the political responsibility of the artist and intellectual. "We have endured a terrible failure of leadership – not just individuals, but a whole class of potential leaders, from which I do not absolve myself. The role of the intellectual is difficult. We should live by what we preach and we should speak out. In that way we always seemed to be superior to our former Western leaders. For them, writers and painters just had to write and paint and keep out of politics."
Achebe's other novels -- often criticized in the West as being too overtly political -- include "Anthills of the Savannah," "A Man of the People," "No Longer at Ease" and "Arrow of God."