Achebe died following a brief illness, said his agent, Andrew Wylie.
“He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,” Mr Wylie said.
His eminence worldwide was rivalled only by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison and a handful of others.
Things Fall Apart, the story of a Nigerian tribesman’s downfall at the hands of British colonialists, has sold more than eight million copies worldwide.
Achebe spent much of his adult life in the United States, but never stopped calling for democracy in Nigeria or resisting literary honours from a government he refused to accept.