The 82-year-old’s death was confirmed by his publisher on Friday.
During a career that spanned decades, Achebe, hailed by many as the “father of modern African literature,” wrote novels, stories and essays on the history of his native country.
It was in his 20s that he completed “Things Fall Apart” about a Nigerian tribesman’s downfall at the hands of British colonialists.
The book marked one of the first times the story of European colonialism had been told from an African perspective. The novel helped make Achebe a literary idol for many Africans and a bridge between Africa and the West.
“Things Fall Apart” has been translated into more than 50 languages, selling more than 8 million copies worldwide.
Achebe, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in 1990, lived in the United States in recent years but never stopped calling for democracy in Nigeria.
In 2007, he won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement – a $120,000 honor.
“It feels good to be acknowledged at any time,” said Achebe. “I say this, I hope it applies to other writers, but as far as I’m concerned, I write to be read, to be acknowledged. In other words, it means that what I’ve written has made some impact somewhere.”