Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, widely seen as a grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82, publisher Penguin said on Friday.

Achebe made his name more than 50 years ago with his novel Things Fall Apart, about his Igbo ethnic group's fatal brush with British colonialism in the 1800s. It was the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African perspective to an international audience.

A spokeswoman for his publisher, Penguin, confirmed his death but had few other details. She said the family would be releasing a statement shortly.

Achebe's early work focused on the social upheavals caused by colonialism in Africa. Things Fall Apart was translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide

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