Hundreds of African literature scholars, who are in Charleston for a conference, will pay tribute to African author Chinua Achebe, who passed away last night. The schedule of the African Literature Association Conference, hosted by the College of Charleston, will be adjusted to include a tribute tonight at 7 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott on Lockwood. The tribute is free and open to the public.

“This is a huge loss for the world, as in many ways Chinua Achebe was the embodiment of contemporary African literature,” says Simon Lewis, conference organizer and English professor at the College of Charleston. “Many of the delegates attending the conference are very close friends and lifelong associates so there is a palpable sense of shock and grief. I can’t think of a better place to participate in a tribute to this great man.”

Achebe is most widely known for his best-selling book, Things Fall Apart, a sobering tale of the destruction of an indigenous Nigerian culture on the brink of colonization towards the end of the nineteenth century. It stands as the definitive account of the impact of colonialism on African culture. It was published in 1958 when Nigeria was on the brink of independence. It is often cited as the most read book in modern African literature and has sold more than 12 million copies.

According to NPR, Achebe, 82, played a critical role in establishing post-colonial African literature and is known to students all over the continent for his seminal novel, Things Fall Apart. Achebe’s masterpiece has graced countless school and college syllabuses and is translated into fifty languages worldwide.

For more information, contact Mary Battles at 662.801.6030 or Simon Lewis at