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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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
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
This is a compelling memoir and an interesting companion to his novels… a fineand 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
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.