Friday Reads: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature was just awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro and we congratulate him! Another perennial favorite for the award is the African writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Thiong’o, who is from Kenya, is a distinguished professor of comparative literature and English at University of California, Irvine. Featured below are some of the best works from the novelist, playwright, essayist and memoirist to immerse yourselves in this weekend and beyond…
A legendary work of African literature, Devil on the Cross is one of the cornerstones of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s enduring fame—and at the heart of his perennial contention for the Nobel Prize. An impassioned cry for a Kenya free of dictatorship and for African writers to work in their own local dialects.
“Ngũgĩ’s memoir eloquently telegraphs the complicated experience of being simultaneously oppressed and enlightened at the hands of a colonial regime.” —The New York Times Book Review
The 50th anniversary edition and a powerful addition to the Penguin African Writers Series: the great Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s fictional critique of the influence of Western missionaries on postcolonial Kenya.
Thiongo’s first novel introduces readers to two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, who stand on a garbage heap and look into their futures: Njoroge is to attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the times are against them: In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie.
The Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writer’s best-known novel is set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya’s independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency.
Born in 1938 in rural Kenya, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o came of age in the shadow of World War II, amidst the terrible bloodshed in the war between the Mau Mau and the British. The son of a man whose four wives bore him more than a score of children, young Ngũgĩ displayed what was then considered a bizarre thirst for learning, yet it was unimaginable that he would grow up to become a world-renowned novelist, playwright, and critic.
Set in the fictional Free Republic of Aburiria, Wizard of the Crow dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for the souls of the Aburirian people, between a megalomaniac dictator and an unemployed young man who embraces the mantle of a magician.
The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya.
For more on these titles visit the collection Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
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