Like most West Indian literature students, I first encountered Chinua Achebe's writings through Things Fall Apart. As a fourth or fifth form student who was more than a little familiar with all the 'classics' one must read in preparation for Cambridge Examinations, Achebe's first book was a welcome change of pace from the world of Thackeray, Austen, Elliot and Dickens.
Beyond the fact that it was refreshing to read about an Africa written by an African, Achebe's lyrical and oratory approach to writing made for tales that were extremely rich and endearing; how could you not feel for Okonkwo and Ikemefuna when the former is commanded to kill the latter by the village's oracle?
Once you read the rest of the tale in Things Fall Apart, Achebe's style lured you to seek out his other works like Girls at War and one of my personal favourites, Chike and the River - a children's book I plan on reading to my own son.
So of course, the news of his death comes like an unexpected blow to all who loved his works; the New York Times rightfully calls Achebe a 'literary titan' whose novels and "poignant short stories... [made him one of] the continents towering men of letters." I daresay the Nigerian author's legacy has long gone far beyond the continent and towers over the literary world at large.
By way of honouring the writer, I wanted to share the work of Edel Rodriguez, a Cuban artist whose spartan illustrations have covered many an Achebe book with just the right amount of evocative flair.
Rest in peace, Chinua...
NB Images Courtesy Edel Rodriguez