Thursday, August 29, 2013

Three top books on Kenya

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Kenya. One title on the list:
A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

On the threshold of independence in 1963, the residents of Thabai village prepare to celebrate the ceding of power to Kenyans. Beneath the surface, things are tense: the British colonials are leaving and there are scores to settle.

During the struggle for independence, some villagers signed up with the Home Guard and collaborated with the "white man". Others took the Mau Mau oath and joined the rebellion – and were imprisoned and tortured in British internment camps. The comrades of Kihika, a local rebel leader who was captured and hanged, are determined to find and kill the man who betrayed him.

The stories of the main characters are told through skilful weaving between past and present. The political turbulence in the country deeply affected people's lives, testing their friendship, love and courage – and sometimes led to betrayal.

As this powerful and absorbing story unfolds, each chapter fills in pieces of a puzzle. Ngugi creates a living history of the independence struggle, retelling the colonial story from a Kenyan perspective.

Kenya's most famous novelist spent more than a year in prison for his writings during the 1970s, and later went into exile abroad.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue