Ngugi wa Thiong'o was born the fifth child of his father's third wife, in a family that includes twenty-four children born to four different mothers. He spent his 1930s childhood as the apple of his mother's eye, before attending school to slake what is considered a bizarre thirst for learning.
As he grows up, the wider political and social changes occurring in Kenya begin to impinge on the boy's life in both inspiring and frightening ways. Through the story of his grandparents and parents, and his brothers' involvement in the violent Mau Mau uprising, Ngugi deftly etches a tumultuous era, capturing the landscape, the people and their culture, and the social and political vicissitudes of life under colonialism and war.
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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 - The New Yorker
Delicate, fresh and scrupulously honest...calm and mature - Spectator
Moving, honest and informative, this is a book about the influence of stories, storytelling and storytellers. It is a reminder that every generation, however beleaguered, can dream to change the world - Independent
The work he offers us here is like nothing that's gone before: it is the chronicle of a child's single-minded pursuit of an education.... The picture of Kenya that he presents is admirably free of cant or sentimentality, and yet it is enough to make you weep - Washington Post
Ngugi has returned to his roots to produce something delicate, fresh and scrupulously honest - The Spectator
The surprise about Dreams in a Time of War is that, for all the provocation of history, and for all its clear-eyed evocation of an agonised time, it is not an angry book ... Ngugi's storyteller's instinct for character and place, for recurring motifs and telling symbols, triumphs over the bleakness of background...this memoir is a tale of triumph - The Scotsman
Essential reading for the author's many admirers - Literary Review
Ngugi's storytelling skills never falter as he brings this far-away world vividly to life - Metro
Absorbing personal reflections that illuminate not just later careers, but the state of their peoples too. - Independent, Christmas round up
One of Kenya's greatest storytellers - Financial Times
Ngugi wa Thiong'o is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the university of California, Irvine, and is director of the university's International Centre for Writing and Translation. His books include Petals of Blood, for which he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in 1977, A Grain of Wheat and Wizard of the Crow. He lives in Irvine, California.