PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University will welcome the famed Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe to its faculty with a celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, at 4 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching, De Ciccio Family Auditorium. The public is welcome to attend.
The event will feature a conversation between Brown President Ruth J. Simmons and Achebe about his new book, The Education of a British-Protected Child, a collection of autobiographical essays. The celebration will also include a “Writers’ Welcome,” with remarks by three distinguished authors and fellow Brown faculty members: John Edgar Wideman, the Asa Messer Professor and professor of Africana studies and English; Carribean novelist George Lamming, visiting professor of Africana studies and creative writing; and West African novelist and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo, visiting professor of Africana studies and creative writing. Additionally, Tricia Rose, professor and chair of Africana studies, and Tony Bogues, the Harmon Family Professor and professor of Africana studies will present remarks.
Achebe has been named the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown, after 19 years on the faculty of Bard College, where he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature. He is best known for his novels and essays which critique postcolonial Nigerian politics and society as well as the impact of the West on Africa.
Born in Ogidi, an Igbo village in Nigeria, Achebe studied at University College (now the University of Ibadan). His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is the most widely read work of African fiction, having sold more than 12 million copies in English alone. It has been translated into 50 languages. His other prominent works include No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah.
For many decades, Achebe has worked to build greater understanding of Africa through his uncompromising political commentary, social critique, and creative writing. Acknowledged godfather to many African writers, he served for a time as editor of the African Writers Series for Heinemann Publishing. He is the author of numerous collections of short stories, poetry and essays. One of his essays, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” aroused considerable debate and had a marked impact on Conrad criticism. A devoted student of Igbo culture, his latest work on Igbo culture and theology is scheduled to be published in October 2009 by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Achebe is the recipient of numerous honors. He was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for outstanding fiction in 2007. Among his more than 40 honorary degrees is an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brown, where he will serve in the Department of Africana Studies and oversee the Chinua Achebe Colloquium on Africa, a new initiative to be developed by Achebe in keeping with his life’s work to foster greater knowledge of Africa.