Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist seen by millions as the father of African literature, has died at the age of 82.
African papers were reporting his death following an illness and hospital stay in Boston this morning, and both his agent and his publisher later confirmed the news to the Guardian.
Simon Winder, publishing director at Penguin, called him an “utterly remarkable man”.
“Chinua Achebe is the greatest of African writers and we are all desolate to hear of his death,” he said.
In a statement, Achebe’s family requested privacy, and paid tribute to “one of the great literary voices of all time. He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”
A novelist, poet and essayist, Achebe was perhaps best known for his first novel Things Fall Apart, which was published in 1958. The story of the Igbo warrior Okonkwo and the colonial era, it has sold more than 10m copies around the world and has been published in 50 languages. Achebe depicts an Igbo village as the white men arrive at the end of the 19th century, taking its title from the WB Yeats poem, which continues: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”