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Thiong'o, Ngugi, wa

(b. 1938)


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Formerly known as James T. Ngugi (1938– ), Kenyan novelist. Weep Not, Child (1964), a novel of childhood that draws largely from his own upbringing and mission‐school education, ends by rejecting the romantic individualism of its protagonist. Other novels include The River Between (1965) and A Grain of Wheat (1967), which blends the realism and compassion of his undergraduate short stories with the messianic political search of his first two novels. When Ngugi took to writing in his own language, Gikuyu, his government arrested him in 1977, and he wrote his first Gikuyu novel largely in prison; it was translated as Devil on the Cross (1982), after being published in Nairobi in 1980 in its original version. Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary (1981) was written in English. Several extracts from works banned in Kenya have appeared in Index on Censorship. In Decolonizing the Mind (1986) Ngugi argues for African authors to write in their native languages. Both Matigari (1987), based on a Kikuyu folk tale, and his recent novel, Wizard of the Crow (2006), were written in Gikuyu and translated into English by the author.

Subjects: Literature.


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