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In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

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Published by Harvill Secker, part of Vintage Publishing

Format: Hardback


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EAN: 9781846556289
Published: 8 Nov 2012


About the book


Ngugi wa Thiong'o is a writer who has lived through extraordinary times. In the House of the Interpreter tells the story of his schooldays in Kenya against the backdrop of the intensification of the struggle for independence.

During the early fifties, Kenya was a country in turmoil. While Ngugi enjoys scouting trips, chess tournaments and reading about Biggles at the prestigious Alliance School near Nairobi, things are changing at home. He arrives back for his first visit since starting school to find his house razed to the ground and the entire village moved up the road closer to a guard checkpoint. Later, his brother, Good Wallace, who fights for the rebels, is captured by the British and taken to a concentration camp. Finally, Ngugi himself comes into conflict with the forces of colonialism when he is victimised by a police officer on a bus journey and thrown in prison for six days.

This fascinating memoir charts the development of a significant voice in international literature, as well as standing as a record of the struggles of a nation to free itself.

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What the critics say

Growing up in Kenya in the 1950s, the future novelist went to an elite school run by a Briton just as the Mau Mau uprising swept his family into the revolt against colonial rule. This powerful memoir depicts a youth torn between these separate worlds
- i

This is a book about a young boy’s fear, not just of letting his mother down or failing to fulfill his potential, but some of the worst political violence that Africa endured in the colonial period
- Mail on Sunday

No writer alive today has more complex experience to draw upon or greater resource to convey it
- Glasgow Herald

The only thing more amazing than identifying the themes of your life is using them to create deceptively simple literature about it. Such labor is child’s play for the Kenyan novelist and playwright Ngugi wa Thiong'o... [With] echoes of Barack Obama’s own Dreams... [Thiong’o] easily keeps the balance between the whimsical, political, spiritual and personal
- Ebony

Eloquently telegraphs the complicated experience of being simultaneously oppressed and enlightened at the hands of a colonial regime
- New York Times Book Review

This is a compelling memoir and an interesting companion to his novels… a fine and fiery book
- The Scotsman

Ngugi has an admirable lightness of touch even …. This book is also a brave and vivid take on decline of British colonialism – a document of a remarkable writer’s coming-of-age that makes all the more poignant reading knowing ‘the memories of pain’ for him that are yet to come
- Independent

It's a work of understated and heartfelt prose that relates one man's intimate view of the epic cultural and political shifts that created modern Africa... Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Kenya endures. And it comes alive in the pages of his brilliant and essential memoir
- LA Times

Many incidents in In the House of the Interpreter will remind readers of the great novels of the African American canon, particularly Richard Wright’s Black Boy and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man . . . . Considering the scope of Ngugi’s life, when completed his extraordinary memoirs encompassing colonialism, post-colonialism, English racism, African despotism, exile and fame may well belong among the major works of history and literature of our time
- Washington Post

About the Author

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.

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