Chinua Achebe's classic novel about Africa, Things Fall Apart, turns fifty this year. Last night Achebe appeared at NYC's Town Hall, in a tribute sponsored by the writers' organization PEN American Center, among others. He was interviewed recently by the Village Voice. Until I read the Voice article, I didn't realize that the Nigerian-born author lives in the U.S. and teaches at Bard College. And I'm glad to hear kids are reading Things Fall Apart; I'd been thinking that it would be a good fit for teenagers. Achebe told journalist Carol Cooper,
The number of children who are reading Things Fall Apart in high school has increased enormously, especially among the students who take my classes. For me, that's a very good sign. Because this generation has a lot of responsibility waiting for it. And how they link up with others their age in distant places may well determine how our civilization survives in this century.
In the Chronicle of Higher Education, you'll find another good piece, by Peter Monaghan, which situates Things Fall Apart, and other work by Achebe, in a literary context. If you're not familiar with the novel or the author, this article is a good place to start.