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55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

By Bookshy @bookshybooks
For my second celebratory post I go to the book covers of Chinua Achebe, but not just any of his covers. I focus on the series designed by Cuban-American illustrator and artist, Edel Rodriguez, with art direction from Helen Yentus, for the re-issue of Achebe's books for Random House (Anchor Books/Vintage between 2008 and 2010). There is something wonderful about a series of books being redesigned together, and I remember the first time I saw some of the book covers in person - it was in 2013 at Busboys and Poets in DC - and I was in love with everything about them.

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

Busboys and Poets where I first saw Edel Rodriguez's cover designs of Chinua Achebe's books in real life.


Well, here are the 11 book covers Rodriguez designed. From Things Fall Apart to The Education of a British-Protected Child. 

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

Cover designs by Edel Rodriguez for the re-issue of Chinua Achebe's books


Rodriguez's page gives an insight into the many rough sketches and ideas for the book covers he has, as well as the hand lettering, before he settled on the final one. The whole process is amazing and it's really wonderful to be able to see it - from his sketches to the final pieces, as well as the ones that didn't make it (which are still absolutely gorgeous). Things Fall Apart  was the first piece Edel Rodriguez was commissioned to do - here he shares the final art, the hand lettering and the rough sketches. I love the his artistic depiction of things literally falling apart.

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

Final art

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

All images of Things Fall Apart via Drawger

From there he did 10 more. Here's the final art work for No Longer at Ease, as well as the 12 different sketches Rodriguez worked on for the book cover.


55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

Final art

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

All images of No Longer at Ease via Drawger

... and the images for Chike and the River, which he also illustrated.


55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez
55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez
55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez
55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez
55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

55 Years of Nigerian Literature: Chinua Achebe and the Art of Edel Rodriguez

All images for Chike and the River via Drawger


So so gorgeous, and the rest of Edel Rodriguez's sketches and the final artwork for Achebe's covers can all be found on Drawger. 

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