Things Fall Apart tells the tragic story of Okonkwo, who, determined to overcome the example of his lazy and imprudent father, elevates himself to a position of respect in the lgbo community of Umuofia through acts of strength, courage, and endurance. Unfortunately, Okonkwo's obsessive fear of failure makes him a humorless and short-tempered man whose pride and violence undercut his reputation in the community. By erasing the effeminate from his character, Okonkwo makes himself into a man who is unable to fully enjoy his success, and by focusing for so long on his individual struggle to be successful, he distances himself from the communal life of Umuofia.
Achebe was married and had four children. He last lived in the United States, where he held a teaching position at Bard College until 2009, when he joined Brown University as a professor of Africana Studies. In his later years, he also served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. He continued writing throughout his life, producing both fiction and non-fiction, and winning awards like the Man Booker International Prize in 2007. His final published work was the literary autobiography There Was a Country : A Personal History of Biafra .