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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Author of A Grain of Wheat

72+ Works 6,307 Members 124 Reviews 19 Favorited
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About the Author

Novelist, playwright, and essayist, Ngugi wa Thiong'o was born in Kenya on January 5, 1938. He received a B.A. in English from Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda in 1963. He is Kenya's best-known writer and one of East Africa's most outspoken social critics. His first novel, Weep Not, show more Child (1964), was a penetrating account of the Mau Mau uprising (a tribal revolt that occurred in colonial Kenya) and was the first English-language novel by an East African. Two subsequent works, The River Between (1965) and A Grain of Wheat (1967), are sensitive novels about the Kikuyu people caught between the old and the new Africa. One of his major concerns has been the lack of reading materials in native African languages. In an attempt to bring literature to African peasants and workers, he wrote and produced the play I Will Marry When I Want (1977) in his native Kikuyu language. The play, which shows the exploitation of Kikuyu workers and peasants, attracted a large audience of poor Kenyans. It also led to Ngugi's arrest and imprisonment. After his release from prison, he went into exile and is currently living in the United States. His other works include Detained (1981); Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986); and Matigari (1987). He received the 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature. In 2006, Random House published his first new novel in nearly two decades, Wizard of the Crow. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Ngũgĩ's name is not in the western form of last name, first name, because neither Ngũgĩ nor wa Thiong'o is his "last name" in the sense that is used in the west. He returned to the traditional Gikuyi form of his name, which roughly means Ngũgĩ son of Thiong'o, and is referred to on his own web site as Ngũgĩ.

Image credit: Photo by user 601TV / Flickr

Series

Works by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

A Grain of Wheat (1967) 940 copies
Wizard of the Crow (2006) — Translator, some editions — 927 copies
Petals of Blood (1977) 761 copies
The River Between (1965) 709 copies
Weep Not, Child (1964) 563 copies
Devil on the Cross (1980) 394 copies
Matigari (1987) 266 copies
I Will Marry When I Want (1982) 78 copies
The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (1977) 47 copies
The Black Hermit (1968) 28 copies
Homecoming (1891) 22 copies
Secure the Base (2016) 12 copies
The Language of Languages (2022) 5 copies
Njamba Nene's Pistol (1984) — Author — 4 copies
Njamba Nene and the Flying Bus (1982) — Author — 4 copies
Petals of Blood 3 copies
Se Afrika (2017) 3 copies
Aradaki Nehir (2016) 2 copies
This Time Tomorrow (1976) 2 copies
Mtawa Mweusi (1970) 1 copy
Mutiiri 1 copy
Nisun jyvä 1 copy
Mtawa mweusi 1 copy
Re-membering Africa (2009) 1 copy
Njia Panda 1 copy

Associated Works

African Short Stories (1985) — Contributor — 147 copies
Granta 109: Work (2009) — Contributor — 116 copies
Under African Skies: Modern African Stories (1997) — Contributor — 92 copies
Found in Translation (2018) — Contributor, some editions — 36 copies
Nairobi Noir (2020) — Contributor — 32 copies
One World of Literature (1992) — Contributor — 24 copies
African Literature: an anthology of criticism and theory (2007) — Contributor — 23 copies
An African Quilt: 24 Modern African Stories (2012) — Contributor — 17 copies
Masters of British Literature, Volume B (2007) — Contributor — 16 copies
Captive Imagination: Letters from Prison (2010) — Foreword — 4 copies

Tagged

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Legal name
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Other names
Ngugi, James Thiong'o (birth name)
wa Thiongo, Ngugi
Birthdate
1938-01-05
Gender
male
Nationality
Kenya
Country (for map)
Kenya
Birthplace
Kamiriithu, Kenya
Places of residence
Kamiriithu, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya
Irvine, California, USA
New York, New York, USA
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Education
Makerere University
University of Leeds
Occupations
university professor
scholar of African and English literature
writer
Relationships
Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ (son)
Wanjikũ wa Ngũgĩ (daughter)
Organizations
University of California, Irvine
Amherst College
Yale University
New York University
Awards and honors
Lotus Prize for Literature (1973)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (Foreign Honorary ∙ Literature ∙ 2003)
PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature (2022)
Disambiguation notice
Ngũgĩ's name is not in the western form of last name, first name, because neither Ngũgĩ nor wa Thiong'o is his "last name" in the sense that is used in the west. He returned to the traditional Gikuyi form of his name, which roughly means Ngũgĩ son of Thiong'o, and is referred to on his own web site as Ngũgĩ.

Members

Discussions

Petals of Blood by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (January 2012)
Matigari by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (December 2011)
Introducing Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (December 2011)
Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (December 2011)
The River Between by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (December 2011)
Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in Author Theme Reads (November 2011)

Reviews

3.5, I did like the book and I learned a lot from it but you can tell its the author's first novel. The first half of the novel is a classic coming-of-age tale with a practical realism meeting the magical memory of the Kenyan hilllands. It plays out important issues for Africans under colonialism, dealing very directly with the complex issue of female circumcision. But the second half of the book is too burdened by repetitive exposition, and morality play style allusions for it to really shine, although certainly, the potential is there. The book is worth reading and I look forward to reading other of Thiong'o's works.… (more)
 
Flagged
Aidan767 | 19 other reviews | Feb 1, 2024 |
First-hand engrossing memoir of life during the years of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, and the often brutal British colonial responses.
 
Flagged
sfj2 | 5 other reviews | Dec 3, 2023 |
Reasons read: ROOT, ANC,
I received this as part of AudioSync File summer program for young people. This is a work of verse telling the creation myth. It is a blend of folklore, myth, adventure and allegory. It is my first book by this author.
 
Flagged
Kristelh | 8 other reviews | Oct 6, 2023 |
This is well known enough on this board that no summary is needed. I will say only that I had the same reaction to this as to the last book of his that I read (The River Between): good, but no more. Although I find his settings and themes of great interest, he just doesn’t engage me. I don’t find the writing particularly moving and the characters—the protagonist(s) as well as the lesser characters—strike me too often as just a step up from stick figures. I will persist and try A Grain of Wheat next since that seems well-regarded here. But I will confess to being disappointed. Again.… (more)
½
 
Flagged
Gypsy_Boy | 7 other reviews | Aug 25, 2023 |

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Statistics

Works
72
Also by
14
Members
6,307
Popularity
#3,893
Rating
3.9
Reviews
124
ISBNs
288
Languages
21
Favorited
19

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