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One Day I Will Write About This Place: A…
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One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir (2011)

by Binyavanga Wainaina

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2091086,422 (3.79)31
In this memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother's religious period, his failed attempt to study commerce in South Africa, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya.

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English (9)  Dutch (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
In a style of writing that I cannot but call absorbing, Wainaina talks about growing up in Kenya in the 70s and 80s, his addiction to fiction, about his booze- and cigarette-fueled attempts at studying in South Africa, about his early days as a writer, about his travels around the continent and the world. Over the course of his personal story, he adds in just enough politics and historical background to keep things firmly in memoir territory (as opposed to general history or international relations).

Some of the chapters were published as magazine articles before, and much of the book reads like that: a skilled writer using personal stories to talk about his world of intertribal distrust, colonial legacies, hesitant African democracies, Lagos cityscapes, Togo markets, and how to chart Kenya’s development through a succession of music styles. The best vignettes in the book, though, are the personal ones: this is where Wainaina’s less-is-more writing style does its most evocative work; his sparse sentences and carefully picked details are more artificial and less effective when it comes to more general topics.

That said, One day I will write about this place was an immersive read that I was eager to pick up and looking forward to read. I would very much like to read more by Wainaina. ( )
  Petroglyph | Jan 8, 2018 |
The first half is so slow, but getting through it is totally worth the effort. The second half almost merits the NY Times "run, don't walk, to buy this book," but overall, I think walking would be just fine. ( )
  kate_r_s | Feb 12, 2017 |
This is a memoir written in spectacularly descriptive and creative language that works best in describing scenes and the African world, less well in engaging the reader personally with the writer. ( )
  snash | Sep 22, 2014 |
A well written account of a writer coming of age in Kenya and his travels across the African continent as an adult. Wainana's prose is elegant, spare and he conveys his experiences in a series a tightly told vingettes.

However, he never really made me care enough about his life. There are worse sins in literature, but I never found myself completely absorbed by this. ( )
  xander_paul | Dec 17, 2013 |
Really wonderful, absorbing memoir about growing up in Kenya in the 70s and 80s, being part of the first generation to be born after independence from British rule. Wainaina's prose is the real joy here, riffing on language, meandering but never rambling, often suggestive rather than direct, and only rarely getting away from itself. (This seems to happen more at the beginning of the book than later on.) I did want this to cohere a little more—it's not quite a memoir proper, but more than a series of vignettes—but was impressed enough that I will look out for more of Wainaina's work in the future. ( )
  siriaeve | Oct 29, 2013 |
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