Paperback: 432 pages
Vintage Classics

Petals of Blood

The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a devastating picture emerges of a modern third-world nation whose frustrated people feel their leaders have failed them time after time. First published in 1977, this novel was so explosive that Ngũgĩ was imprisoned without charges by the Kenyan government. His incarceration was so shocking that newspapers around the world called attention to the case, and protests were raised by human-rights groups, scholars, and writers, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Harold Pinter, and Margaret Drabble.


“Ambitious, caustic, and impassioned.”
—New Yorker

“A compelling novel about the tragedy of corrupting power, set in post-independence Kenya. . . Ngugi writes with passion about every form, shape and colour which power can take.”
—Sunday Times

“A mind-blowing political statement, an anguished cry of despair… a bombshell.”
—The Weekly Review, Kenya