In Boston, in 1999, at a celebration of the centennial of Ernest Hemingway’s birth, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with Achebe, on the subject of writing about Africa… An evidently confused woman in the audience took the opportunity to ask “In what sense are you writers about Africa?” The other panelists—Nadine Gordimer and Kwame Anthony Appiah—were too baffled to respond. Not Achebe. He leaned into his microphone, and very slowly and melodically, with rolling “R”s and drawn out “O”s, roared: “Read. Our. Books.” The woman said, “But I’m asking you.” And Achebe said, “I’m telling you: Read. Our. Books.”
What better epitaph for the man, and what better way to remember him today: read his books."