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‘Things Fall Apart’, Chinua Achebe’s Classic Novel Named One of the 50 Most Influential Books of the last 50 Years



Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’ has been named one of the ‘50 Most Influential Books of the last 50 years’.

A group called ‘SuperScholar’ made this selection, naming Achebe’s first novel which was published in 1958 and translated to more than sixty languages as one of the 50 most influential books among books by other world acclaimed writers.

Other novels on the list include Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’, Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’.

Achebe, who is the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University in Providence, RI, is the author of five novels, several volumes of poetry as well as essay collections. His latest book, ‘There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra’, will be published in September, 2012.

Note From Super Scholar

In compiling the books on this list, the editors at SuperScholar have tried to provide a window into the culture of the last 50 years. Ideally, if you read every book on this list, you will know how we got to where we are today. Not all the books on this list are “great.” The criterion for inclusion was not greatness but INFLUENCE. All the books on this list have been enormously influential.

The books we chose required some hard choices. Because influence tends to be measured in years rather than months, it’s much easier to put older books (published in the 60s and 70s) on such a list than more recent books (published in the last decade). Older books have had more time to prove themselves. Selecting the more recent books required more guesswork, betting on which would prove influential in the long run.

We also tried to keep a balance between books that everyone buys and hardly anyone reads versus books that, though not widely bought and read, are deeply transformative. The Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa never sold as many records as some of the “one-hit wonders,” but their music has transformed the industry. Influence and popularity sometimes don’t go together. We’ve tried to reflect this in our list.

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), as the most widely read book in contemporary African literature, focuses on the clash of colonialism, Christianity, and native African culture.

A classic novel, it is certainly one of my favourite books of all times.

Well done Professor! You make Nigerians proud.

News Source: Super Scholar 

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Turayo

    May 21, 2012 at 7:28 am

    It must be me only, and I accept that, but I do not see how this book is influential. Congrats, though Achebe.

    • abracadabra

      May 21, 2012 at 8:56 am


    • Person

      May 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Run along doll. The book is only meant for people that can apply their minds to studying and understanding great works of art. You are clearly out of your depth here. The style tab in the 6th tab from the left at the top of this page (I’m assuming here that you can count).

    • UD29

      May 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

      The only reason you may not see it as influential is because it’s indigenous to your country. It’s been an influential piece of literature for decades, relevant to how foreigners and natives view our culture, eventhough it portrays Igbo culture only. No one needs “SuperScholar” to highlight that.

  2. John

    May 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Great book, but 2012 minus 50 years takes us to 1962, so how does Things Fall Apart (1958) make it into the list?

    • somebody else

      May 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Goodness gracious!!! It for books published within the 50 years, not books published 50 years ago.

  3. Linda

    May 21, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Indeed it is only you. You’re way out of your depths here, ‘doll’. Run along to the fashion section.

    • Tiki

      May 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

      LOOOOLL! GBAM! Nice riposte.

  4. Ayo

    May 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

    It is even No.1 on the list

  5. clairebaby

    May 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Turayo, obviously u have not read the book! Its a masterpiece, certainly the greatest nigerian novel ever written.
    I predict that in the next 50 yrs, chimamanda adichie’s ‘half of the yellow sun’ would also make the list.
    Anyway, we r all entitled to our opinions.

  6. LPS

    May 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Well deserved!

  7. Abimbola

    May 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Its indeed a vry influential book. As an historian, i knw d worth of d book. Its worth kiping in my archival.

  8. JO!

    May 21, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I think you guys are asking the wrong questions. The question should be “Tunrayo, how old are you?” Then other questions can follow, for those of us who met the African Writer’s Series, we were blessed indeed, blessed indeed! Apart from ben 10 and music videos, I don’t know what this children are doing nowadays o.

  9. yinka

    May 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

    @JOHN really…truly common sense is not common

  10. kem

    May 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

    but it sad, book writers don”t make millions or do they? someone should prove me wrong…..

    • talkam

      May 21, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Write book and see. 😛

  11. Omolola

    May 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Awesome book…well deserved No 1

  12. ola

    May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Well done!my role model,am proud of u

  13. christy

    May 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    God! That my mentor for life,his books, his personality, I ve lost count on how many times I ve read his books,I mean all his books,so much so that I feel I can rewrite them.He set the pace for other African litrary Authors to follow.He is one of the respected personality ever,to even see that he rejected the national honour twice,because of the state of this nation? I can’t say much,blca swords alone can’t can’t express how much I feel abt him.Adiche Chemamanda is a rebirth of chinua Achebe.He s a litrary icon!

  14. NINA

    May 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    ahow can you put half of a yellow sun in the same category as things fall apart…half of a yellow sun is smu, contrived, and self is not a literary master piece..give me things fall apart, the african child, and weep not child

  15. Ndidi

    May 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Well done, Eze Oga Honorable Prof. Mr. Chinua Achebe! An elder statesman who represents Nigeria well.

  16. obi

    May 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    @Jo, i wish there is a like button here. indeed children of nowadays are really like flotsam.

  17. Berry Choco Latte

    May 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I should re-read Things Fall Apart. I can’t remember more than a quarter of what I read in primary/secondary school…

  18. zina

    May 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Turayo…is a turayo. well go ask the White Scholars why it is influential..lame talk!

  19. larry

    May 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Achebe is the FATHER OF AFRICAN LITERATURE!! Africa literary numero uno.

  20. austine

    May 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Prof. Achebe is the greatest writer to have come out of Mother Africa. The entire world recognizes that fact.. KUDOS, SIR.

  21. clairebaby

    May 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    @ Nina, the book u called ‘smug, contrived and self-indulgent’ won the orange prize and had rave reviews. I’m not comparing it to things fall apart, its more modern, not as simply written and not as easy to read as ‘things fall apart’
    But to me, ‘half of the yellow sun’ is an inspirational book esp for igbo people. The biafran war to the igbos is what world war 2 is to the jews (although not as horrible), and reading half of a yellow sun made me proud to be an igbo girl, and made me proud of my heritage and made me admire the courage of my people. So to me and many others in my shoes- half of a yellow sun may not be a literary masterpiece (I leave that to wole soyinka), but it is truly inspirational.

  22. NNENNE

    May 22, 2012 at 1:12 am

    @Turayo…Perhaps, you read it as a novel instead of a literature.There is nobody I have given the book that does not speak highly of it. (Non Nigerians).
    I could talk about colonization and Christianity in Nigeria, because of “Things fall apart”!

    • Turayo

      May 23, 2012 at 7:18 am

      I would love if someone could explain it. I most likely did read it as a novel but I’ve also read other works as a novel and got strong themes from them. I saw symbolic themes in Ibsens’s plays (Doll House) but I just cannot see them in Things Fall Apart.

  23. Obi

    May 22, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Nina … We both agree that Prof Achebe is a literary icon. But please explain why you consider ‘Half a Yellow Sun’ – indulgent- (your word). I think Ms Adichie picked up from where the writers from the 50s, 60s, and 70s left off. So, as much as she has not yet attained the height that Prof Achebe did, she can. Give her some time. This isn’t meant as a confrontation. I’m really curious; would like to understand …

  24. Meangirlgonegood

    May 22, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I remember reading this book two years ago and been blown away. Its an African writing about us pre colonial era, it’s a must read for all who desire to know about our roots

  25. Triangle

    May 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Back in secondary school we used to have a mean literature teacher, she made us read this book from chapter to chapter, and cover to cover. We even copied out every single proverb from the book and gave the translation. This book holds a special place in my heart.
    My favorite part will be where a group of pple went for a marriage ceremony and d fufu they were served was so high that pple on one side couldn’t see those on d other side, till they had eaten d mountain of akpu down, and exclaimed ‘oh! you too came’? LOL
    Well deserved i must say.

  26. Nomy

    May 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    @ Triangle that was also my favourite part, the food must have been mountainous, i still recall that part and laugh. Achebe is a writer, a very good one, the best we have produced in the country i daresay. Now Chimamanda is just exceptional, her mind is just too good, till date, i pick up Purple Hibiscus anytime and i mean anytime i want to truly engage myself. As for Turayo, i weak for you oh! Please comment on the weddings, parties and fashion shows. Don’t bring yourself here again, you apparently don’t read at all.

  27. O.N.A

    May 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I have heard the story but never read it……and have always felt that my education will not be complete until I read ‘Things Fall Apart’. This and all the comments have made want to go and purchase it and read right way…. @Jo!…Let me an exception…I am 18 and still faith in our generation…will definatly read this book before the end of this month….

  28. O.N.A

    May 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I have heard the story but never read it……and have always felt that my education will not be complete until I read ‘Things Fall Apart’. This and all the comments have made me want to go and purchase it and read right way…. @Jo!…Let me be an exception…I am 18 and still faith in our generation…will definatly read this book before the end of this month….

  29. Grace

    May 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

    TUNRAYO, please don’t comment on issues you don’t understand or are clueless about, no one is discussing ‘Hints’ magazine here

  30. Emily

    October 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    fascinating book!

  31. Neha Sharma

    December 3, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I was looking for some other book at a book shop, but didn’t find it. I had never read any African literature before. When I saw this book I had no idea about Chinua Achebe, but just thought of giving it a try. After reading the first few pages I knew that I have stumbled and a good piece of literature.

    Achebe’s style of writing is exemplary. He manages to convey a lot with fewer words.

    The story is about the erosion of the Aftrican (Igbo) culture because of the colonialism by the British. Though Achebe is not critical about the British, he does feel that they did anhiliate other cultures and religion, and spread their culture and religion as the true ones. In this process, things did fall apart for many a cultures and religions across the globe and Igbo is one of them.

    The welfare of humanity is more important and an urgent need than the spread of ones religion or philosophy, and the defeat of all others.

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