To some readers, this claims might appear outrageous. Is Nwelue being ignorant, they may wonder. The answer is no. Nwelue who has served as visiting professor of postcolonial literature in India knows his African literature. We can assume that he is speaking from the position of an expert. There is something to be said for taking a stand against tradition and critiquing the fact that we’ve privileged or, rather, deified Things Fall Apart in the history of modern African fiction. At the end of the day, he is simply asking that we re-evaluate Achebe’s body of work and come up with new ways of understanding what Achebe’s achievements are. Nothing wrong with that!
In a recent interview with Wealth Ominabo Dickson, Nwelue essentially dismisses Things Fall Apart as a not very intelligent piece of juvenilia—an work of questionable quality written in his youth. Whereas the rest of the world hold up Achebe’s debut novel as one of the great things ever written in the English language, Nwelue says it is inferior compared to Achebe’s later writings.
If you’ve read Things Fall Apart and have read what young people write these days – people like Helen Oyeyemi, Diekoye Oyeyinka and Chigoize Obioma – you would know that Achebe’s writing of Things Fall Apart at that age was not intelligent; he was not exposed.”…. he was a ‘lo, lo, lo, lo, local writer’….