December 2018
6 black and white illustrations
264 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781847012142
Format: Paperback
James Currey
BISAC LIT004010, LIT000000, LIT025030


Reflections on his Life of Writing

Edited by Simon Gikandi, Ndirangu Wachanga

First-hand accounts of how Ngugi wa Thiong'o's life and work have intersected, and the multiple forces that have converged to make him one of the greatest writers to come out of Africa in the twentieth century.
This collection of essays reflects on the life and work of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2018. Drawing from a wide range of contributors, including writers, critics, publishers and activists, the volume traces the emergence of Ngugi as a novelist in the early 1960s, his contribution to the African culture of letters at its moment of inception, and his global artistic life in the twenty-first century. Here we have both personal and critical reflections on the different phases of the writer's life: there are poems from friends and admirers, commentaries from his co-workers in public theatre in Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s, and from his political associates in the fight for democracy, and contributions on his role as an intellectual of decolonization, as well as his experiences in the global art world. Included also are essays on Ngugi's role outside the academy, in the world of education, community theatre, and activism. In addition to tributes from other authors who were influenced by Ngugi, the collection contains hitherto unknown materials that are appearing in English for the first time. Both a celebration of the writer, and a rethinking of his legacy, this book brings together three generations of Ngugi readers. We have memories and recollections from the people he worked with closely in the 1960s, the students that he taught at the University of Nairobi in the 1970s, his political associates during his exile in the 1980s, and the people who worked with him as he embarked on a new life and career in the United States in the 1990s. First-hand accounts reveal how Ngugi's life and work have intersected, and the multiple forces that have converged to make him one of the greatest writers to come out of Africa in the twentieth century.

Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor of English, Princeton University. He is President of the MLA and was editor of its journal PMLA, from 2011-2016.
Ndirangu Wachanga is Professor of Media Studies and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin. He is also the authorized documentary biographer of Professors Ali A. Mazrui, Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Micere Mugo.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Ngugi wa Thiong'o - Reflecting on a Life in Writing - Simon Gikandi
Ngugi at work - Ndirangu Wachanga
Hyperbolic praise poetry for Ngugi @ 80: In imitation of African orature - Micere Githae Mugo
A Song at Dawn [for Ngugi wa Thiong'o] - Tsitsi Jaji
Ngugi in Eritrea - Charles Cantalupo
Up from Makerere: On the publication of Weep Not, Child - Susan Nalugwa Kiguli
Encountering Ngugi at Leeds: An interview with Peter Nazareth - Roland Nasasira
The book that made me: On Weep Not, Child - Simon Gikandi
Note from a literary son - Peter Kimani
What is in a name? - Ime Ikkideh
In exile: Between Britain & Kenya - Odhiambo Levin Opiyo
Remembering early conversations with Ngugi - Bernth Lindfors
Ngugi wa Thiong'o at 80: Pongezi - Congratulations! - Eddah Gachukia
Ngugi at 80: Inspiring encounters - Willy Mutunga
Ngugi in the '70s at the University of Nairobi - Margaretta wa Gacheru
Professor, you are in Ngugi's book - Rhonda Cobham-Sander and Reinhard W. Sander
Muraata, Murutani, na Muthikiriria - Friend, teacher & listener - Ann Biersteker
Fear & trepidation in Asmara: Meeting Ngugi - Jane Plastow
Ngugi wa Thiong'o: A true story - Grant Farred
Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Tribute on his 80th birthday - Chege Githiora
Ngugi & the decolonization of publishing - James Currey
The turning point: Ngugi wa Thiong'o & his publisher - Henry Chakava
Working with Ngugi wa Thiong'o - Sultan Somjee
Recollections of Mutiiri:The beginnings - Kimani Njogu
Bricklayer & architect of a world to come - Emilia Ilevia
Revisioning Goethe's idea of "World Literature": Commendation address on the awarding of Dr. Phil. h.c. to Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o - Anne Adams
Globalectics: Beyond postcoloniality & engaging the Caribbean - Carole Boyce Davies
Ngugi & the quest for a linguistic paradigm shift: Some reflections - Alamin Mazrui
Autobiographical prototypes in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's early fiction & drama - Gichingiri Ndigirigi
Homecoming: The idea of return in the works of Ngugi wa Thiong'o - James Ogude
Gucookia Ruui Mukaro - Redirecting the river back to its rightful course - Kiarii Kamau
Muthoni's afterlives - Grace A. Musila
Kwa Grant Kamenju: Hotuba ya kuipokea digrii ya heshima ya uzamifu kutoka chuo kikuu cha Dar es Salaam - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Wasomi, lugha za Ulaya na za Kiafrika: Kati ya kuweza na kuwezwa - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Asia in My Life - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Ndai ya Wendo [A Riddle of Love] - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
A. Review of Wizard of the Crow: Ngugi's homecoming gift to Kenyans [Cabral Pinto /Willy Mutunga] - Willy Mutunga
B. Directing the river back to its course - Kiarii Kamau
C. For Grant Kamenju - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
D. Intellectuals, European & African Languages: Between enslavement & empowerment - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
E. A Riddle of Love - Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Bibliography of Ngugi's Primary Works


The respected contributors in the volume know Ngugi in person and use the opportunity the book offers to bring to the fore the most salient contributions Ngugi has made in literary studies. DAILY NATION

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