Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: The New Press (October 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620972409
ISBN-13: 978-1620972403
Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches


Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent in Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years where he found his voice as a playwright, journalist, and novelist, just as Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and other countries were in the final throes of their independence struggles.

James Ngũgĩ, as he was known then, is haunted by the emergency period of the previous decade in Kenya, when his friends and relatives were killed during the Mau Mau Rebellion. He is also haunted by the experience of his childhood in a polygamous family and the brave break his mother made from his father’s home. Accompanied by these ghosts, Ngugi begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is both the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—and the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history.


“Exquisite in its honesty and truth and resilience, and a necessary chronicle from one of the greatest writers of our time. ”
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Guardian, Best Books of 2016

“It’s hard to think of another living writer today — Orhan Pamuk, perhaps — who speaks so inspiringly and convincingly about the value of literature. No serious reader will want to miss this riveting story.”
The Washington Post

“An eloquent, perceptive memoir … Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds.”
Publishers Weekly

“A writer’s coming-of-age tale featuring an artistic mix of pride and humility.”
Kirkus Reviews

“An autobiographical masterpiece … As essential as Achebe’s There Was a Country, this is a riveting read in African history and literature.”
Library Journal

“This is a powerful recollection of a turbulent time that produced leaders from Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta to the tyrannical Idi Amin in response to the brutality of a dying colonialism.”

This book was selected as one of's ``17 Must-Read Books for the New Year`` and O Magazine's ``10 Titles to Pick up Now.``