Cover Story A Visual History Of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart by Sean O’Toole

Writer’s brief

“I didn’t feel very enthusiastic that what I was doing is soon going to be a thing of the past. Because I have always thought of the continuation or the continuity of my story and that, even if new cultural forms come up, they will stand beside older forms. But that’s not an issue we can fight— it’s just there. It makes one a little solemn . . . ” said Chinua Achebe in Transition 100: Things Fall Apart at 50.

That may well be the case but there was little solemnity in the celebrations of the novel’s 50th anniversary. First published in 1958, by Heinemann Press’ African Series, Things Fall Apart is probably Africa’s most critically acclaimed fiction. Most writers and publications looked back at its publishing with nostalgia, acclaiming its significance, mourning the contemporary state of affairs, re-affirming its greatness.

The Association of Nigerian Authors organized an international colloquium, the PEN American Center hosted a star-studded tribute to Achebe. (hey, as the novel reminds us: “When we have a feast do we not send for our friends in other clans to come and share it with us, and do they not also ask us to their own celebrations?”)

It seems its time for the Chronicle to re-read Things Fall Apart

50 years & nearly as many editions… there’s something in a socio-historic reading of these covers:

Reading list

  • Achebe, C 1958 Things fall apart. Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 1968 Things fall apart. African Writers Series, Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 1996 Things fall apart, Heinemann < >
  • Achebe, C 1959 Things fall apart, McDowell, Obolensky
  • Achebe, C 2001, Things fall apart, Penguin Modern Classics
  • Achebe, C 1985 Things fall apart. Fawcett Crest
  • Achebe, C 1986 Arrow of God, Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 1988 A man of the people. Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 1988, Anthills of the Savannah. Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 2004, No longer at ease. East African Publishers
  • Achebe, C 1984, The trouble with Nigeria. Heinemann
  • Achebe, C 1990, Hopes and impediments: selected essays. Doubleday
  • Achebe, C 2003, Home and exile. Canongate
  • Achebe, C & Irele, A 2009 Things fall apart: authoritative text, contexts and criticism. W. W. Norton & Co.
  • Achebe, C. & Ohaeto, E. 2003 Chinua Achebe: straight from the heart. Stone Press
  • Achebe, C. & Lindfors, B. 1997 Conversations with Chinua Achebe. University Press of Mississippi, Mississipi
  • Achebe’s Homecoming, 2009, Multimedia, BBC two, London <>
  • Labaran, B 2010 ‘Professor Chinua Achebe on his country’s first 50 years,’ BBC Focus on Africa < >
  • Currey, J & Hallett, G 2008,  Africa writes back: the African writers series & the launch of African literature. Woodbridge: Oxford : James Currey
  • African Writers Series Collection Online, Chadwyck-Healey Literature Collections < >
  • Chandler, R. 1949, The Little Sister. Hamish Hamilton
  • Chandler, R. 1950, The Simple Art of Murder, Hamish Hamilton
  • Jackson, M, Monk T, 1955 Milt Jackson with Thelonious Monk , Blue Note 1509   12″ LP
  • Monk, T 1956  Thelonious Monk: Genius of Modern Music, Blue Note 1511   12″ LP, vol. 2
  • Dorham, K 1956 Afro- Blue Note 1535   12″ LP
  • Hallet, G 2009, “On designing covers for Heinemann’s African Writers Series,” Chimurenga Sessions, PASS Radio, Cape Town  < >
  • Zimmer, N. 2011, “The Birth Of The Blue Notes A Speculative Map”  Arts Review, Chimurenga Chronic, Page 6
  • Annas, M 2011,  ‘A legacy of note,’ Arts Review, Chimurenga Chronic, Page 7
  • Themba, C., 1972. The Will to Die. Selected by Donald Stuart and Roy Holland. London: Heinemann, London.
  • Soyinka, W. (ed.),  1975, Poems of Black Africa. Edited and introduced by Wole Soyinka. Heinemann, London.
  • Armah, A K, 1969, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Heinemann: London
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti.1976 No Bread. EMI Nigeria, Lagos
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti. 1976 Yellow Fever. Polydor
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti. 1976 Upside Down. Polydor
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti. 1976 Before I Jump Like Monkey Give Me Banana. PolyGram
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti.  1976 Zombie. MCA
  • “Artist Ghariokwu Lemi discusses the ideas and messages behind the artwork on Fela’s albums.” 2010, Youtube Video  <>
  • Sanders, O, 2009 “ Lemi Ghariokwu – Art’s Own Kind”,  Shook Magazine <>
  • O’Toole, S. W., 2006, The Marquis of Mooikloof and other stories. Juta and Company Ltd < >
One Response to “Cover Story A Visual History Of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart by Sean O’Toole”
  1. stacy 11 December 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Ayi Kwei Armah might have an interesting reading on this.

    His new collection of essays titled Remembering the Dismembered Continent (2010) includes two sarcastic letters he wrote Achebe in response to the latter’s critique of Armah in an essay published in 1975. Achebe suggested that Armah was imitating western writers, obsessed with alienation and fragmentation.

    Armah hits back with: “We all know of pseudo-critics who are too lazy or too busy hustling to read an author’s works and analyse them seriously.”


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