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In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir

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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

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

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

Beautifully crafted... A story for all time
- Irish Examiner

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.

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

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