Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: The New Press, 2018
One of Oprah.com’s “17 Must-Read Books for the New Year” and O Magazine’s “10 Titles to Pick up Now.”
Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years during which he found his voice as a journalist, short story writer, playwright, and novelist just as colonial empires were crumbling and new nations were being born—under the shadow of the rivalries, intrigues, and assassinations of the Cold War.
Haunted by the memories of the carnage and mass incarceration carried out by the British colonial-settler state in his native Kenya but inspired by the titanic struggle against it, Ngũgĩ, then known as James 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 simultaneously the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history, and the emergence of new histories and nations with uncertain futures.
“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 autobiographical masterpiece.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A writer’s coming-of-age tale featuring an artistic mix of pride and humility.”
“An autobiographical masterpiece. . . As essential as Achebe’s There Was a Country, this is a riveting read in African history and literature.”
—Library Journal (starred)
“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.”
“Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“In his crowded career and his eventful life, Ngugi has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial, and linguistic currents.”
—John Updike, The New Yorker
“Ngugi has dedicated his life to describing, satirising and destabilising the corridors of power…Still living in exile and writing primarily in Gikuyu, Ngugi continues to spin captivating tales.”
“Ngugi has flown over the entire African continent and sniffed out all of the foul stenches rising high into the air: complacency toward despotism, repression of women and ethnic minorities, widespread corruption and—undergirding all of these—a neocolonial system in which today’s lending banks and multinationals have supplanted yesterday’s European overlords.”
—The New York Times Book Review