NGŨGĨ WA THIONG’O
As if this day hasn’t been momentous enough, this evening we are honored to host one of the great writers at work in the world today, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Not to jinx him as we move to the annual time of Nobel Literature Prize honors, but he is among those most frequently mentioned for that, the greatest world literary honor. Born and come of age in Kenya, he is the author of major, prize-winning works of fiction, A Grain of Wheat, Petals of Blood, and Wizard of the Crow, among them. He is also the author of powerful nonfiction works, Decolonising the Mind and the recent Secure the Base (Seagull) among those. He is here tonight from southern California where he is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, with a brilliant memoir of his coming of age as a writer and young man, Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer’s Awakening (The New Press). “Thiong’o has penned an eloquent, perceptive memoir about coming into his own as a writer. He focuses on his four pivotal years as an undergraduate at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he wrote articles, composed plays, and discovered his voice as a novelist … As he taps his memories and his country’s history for material, he includes insightful commentary on the Land and Freedom Army resistance movement (once known as Mau Mau, a now-disavowed term), the distortions in European and American views of Africa, his social rites of passage at the university, his discovery of the Négritude school of poetry, his uncle’s imprisonment in a British concentration camp, and his mother’s (and mother country’s) sacrifices for his education. Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds. - Publishers Weekly.