Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was born in Kenya and currently lives in Brisbane, Australia. An acclaimed writer, Owuor won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing in 2003 with her short story, Weight of Whispers. Last month, she released her new novel, Dust, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Owour is also a past recipient of the Iowa Writer’s Fellowship and her work has appeared in McSweeney’s and other publications. She has been a TEDx Nairobi speaker and a Lannan Foundation resident. In 2004, she was named ‘Woman of the Year’ by Eve Magazine in Kenya. Africa Book Club had the pleasure of interviewing her recently.
Dreams in A Time Of War (by Ngugi wa Thiong’o) starts in a hopeful place. Hopeful for a reason not too obvious at the start. After a day fighting hunger pangs at Kinyogori Intermediate School, Ngugi and Kenneth Mbugua, a classmate, take the longer six mile route home past the Limuru Bata Shoe factory. At a crossroads they are drawn into a crowd discussing the daring escape of a nameless man arrested close by. The crowd disputes the events and breaks up into groups. The nameless man turns out to be Wallace Mwangi also known as Good Wallace. Good Wallace is Ngugi’s brother and a Kenya Land and Freedom Army supplier. So begins a riveting memoir about growing up in colonial Kenya in a time of social, economic, world and anti-colonial war.
In The Strange Bride, Grace Ogot demonstrates how myths continue to elucidate the past and the present power relations. She uses myths to attack the patriarchal privileges of the traditional African setting. She departs from the foundational myth in this book that condemns women as villains who provoked god to force people to labor for a living.
A nurse, tutor, journalist, politician and diplomat, Grace Agot is considered one of East Africa’s best writers. She is also the founding member of the Writers Association of Kenya. Land Without Thunder and Other Stories, first published in 1968, was her first book.
One of Africa’s best known and most respected authors, Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is outstanding both for the number of books he has written and the enduring quality of his writing. In this interview, he talks about how he got his first big break, and what inspires him to keep writing. He also tells us when his next book will be coming out.
In Striving for the Wind, Meja Mwanji paints an emotional portrait of the inequality, the injustice and poverty exists between the rich and poor but which are often taken for granted in most societies. Like most of Mwangi’s books, this one is also written in a hilarious manner, the expressions used will have the reader laughing with every turn of the page.
First published in 2008 by East African Educational Publishers, Florence Mbaya’s A Journey Within is a rather interesting book about self discovery.
The plot is set in Kenya and the story begins as Monica Saliku, the main character and a fresh graduate is job searching. Like many fresh graduates, she hopes to get a job in one of the big government offices in Nairobi city, earn a good salary, and maybe later get to drive an official car.
Set in Kenya during the colonial period, Mwangi’s Carcase for Hounds, published in 1974 by Heinmann, is a typical revolution gone bad story. The story centres on General Haraka, a former village chief turned Mau Mau warrior and Captain George Kingsley who is after him.
The River and the Source was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best First Book – Africa), as well as and the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, in 1995. It is a sweeping story following the lives of three generations of women, from Akoko, born into a traditional Luo community, to her grandchild Awiti, whose children live into the late twentieth century.
One Day I Will Write About This Place is an interesting, honest, and immensely readable short memoir. The book documents the Binyavanga Wainaina’s life from childhood through to how he eventually became an author, going on to win the Caine Prize. The memoir gives us a window not only into the Wainaina’s life, but into the Kenya he grew up in.