Anchor Books Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Nigerian Writer Chinua Achebe's Novel "Things Fall Apart" with a Tribute in New York with Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison

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This week, Anchor Books will publish the 50th Anniversary Edition of Chinua Achebe's modern classic novel -- THINGS FALL APART. First published in England in 1958, THINGS FALL APART is one of the great novels of the 20th century, and Achebe is arguably the father of modern African literature. Put simply, THINGS FALL APART, one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim, is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within. Since its first publication Achebe's seminal novel has been published in fifty different languages and has sold millions of copies in the United States alone since its original publication.

2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart." To honor this milestone and to celebrate Black History Month, Anchor Books has produced a beautiful new 50th Anniversary Edition. Achebe's tale of tribal life in Nigeria is a powerful read, as moving the first time as it is the fiftieth. It's also a fantastic choice for reading groups and is sure to inspire lively discussion.

As part of an international celebration of Achebe's work, Anchor Books and PEN American Center are hosting a tribute at Town Hall in New York City on Tuesday, February 26 with authors Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Adichie, Suheir Hammad, Edwidge Danticat, Ha Jin, Chris Abani, and Colum McCann. The evening also features a special performance by the Francesca Harper Dance Project with dancers from the Alvin Ailey School.

Combining a richly African story with the author's keen insight into the qualities common to all humanity, Achebe here shows that he is "gloriously gifted, with the magic of an ebullient, generous, great talent." (Nadine Gordimer) THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of story and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society. The second story, as modern as the first is ancient, elevates the book to a tragic plane.

THINGS FALL APART concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

NEW YORK - Tuesday, February 26
With Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Adichie, Suheir Hammad,
Edwidge Danticat, Ha Jin, Chris Abani, Colum McCann
and members of the Alvin Ailey dance troupe

WASHINGTON, DC -- Monday, March 24
PEN/FAULKNER @Howard University

PRINCETON, NJ -- Wednesday, March 26
Princeton University

PHILADELPHIA -- Thursday, March 27
Philadelphia Free Library

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -- Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan. Cited in the London Sunday Times as one of the "1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century" for defining "a modern African literature that was truly African" and thereby making "a major contribution to world literature," Achebe has published novels short stories, essays, and children's books. His volume of poetry, Christmas in Biafra, written during the Biafran War, was the joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Of his novels, Arrow of God won the New Statesman-Jock Campbell Award, and Anthills of the Savannah was a finalist for the 1987 Booker Prize. Things Fall Apart, Achebe's masterpiece, has been published in fifty different languages and has sold millions of copies in the United States since its original publication. Achebe holds an important position -- not only for his work but also for his place in the evolution of world and postcolonial literature. His essay on the racist aspects of Conrad's Heart of Darkness is almost required reading with any teaching of that novel. His work has impacted decades of acclaimed novels focusing on Africa from Ben Okri's The Famished Road to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of A Yellow Sun, amongst others. In 2007, he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. Mr. Achebe lives with his wife in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where they teach at Bard College. They have four children and three grandchildren.

Founded in 1953 Anchor Books is the oldest trade paperback publisher in America. The goal was to make inexpensive editions of modern classics widely available to college students and the adult public. He succeeded admirably. Today, Anchor's list boasts award-winning history, science, women's studies, sociology, and quality fiction. Authors published by Anchor Books include Chinua Achebe, Ian McEwan, Alexander McCall Smith, Karen Armstrong, Jon Krakauer, Chuck Palahniuk, Mary Gordon, Dan Brown, and Margaret Atwood.

"Achebe is gloriously gifted with the magic of an ebullient, generous, great talent." -- Nadine Gordimer, The New York Times Book Review

"Mr. Achebe draws a fascinating picture of tribal life among his own people at the end of the nineteenth century...A vivid imagination illuminates every page, and his style is a model of clarity. This novel genuinely succeeds in penetrating tribal life from the inside." -- Times Literary Supplement

"Achebe is one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from the West African cultural renaissance of the post-war world." -- The Sunday Times (London)

"Things Fall Apart may well be Africa's best loved novel.... for so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction." -- Kwame Anthony Appiah

"Chinua Achebe's work gave me permission to write my own stories: before I read Things Fall Apart at the age of ten, I did not realize that Igbo people like me could exist as complex characters in a book and so had been writing little parodies of the British children's books I was reading. I look at Things Fall Apart with a mix of pride and awe; it is as if his achievement is also the collective achievement of all black Africans whose history for very long was told by others. There is a certain quiet and abiding dignity in Achebe's work that I find deeply moving. He remains today the most important writer for me because of this, as well as for his graceful prose, his integrity, and the humor and humanity of his stories which are all wonderfully, unmistakably Nigerian without losing their worldliness." -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Orange Prize-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun

CONTACT: Sloane Crosley
Associate Director of Publicity, Vintage & Anchor Books


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