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Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening
     

Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
 

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Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent in Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years where he found his voice as a playwright, journalist, and novelist, just as Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and other

Overview


Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent in Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years where he found his voice as a playwright, journalist, and novelist, just as Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and other countries were in the final throes of their independence struggles.

James Ngugi, as he was known then, is haunted by the emergency period of the previous decade in Kenya, when his friends and relatives were killed during the Mau Mau Rebellion. He is also haunted by the experience of his childhood in a polygamous family and the brave break his mother made from his father’s home. Accompanied by these ghosts, Ngugi begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is both the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—and the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/27/2016
Thiong’o, a Kenyan novelist (Wizard of the Crow) and a UC Irvine English professor, has penned an eloquent, perceptive memoir about coming into his own as a writer. He focuses on his four pivotal years as an undergraduate at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he wrote articles, composed plays, and discovered his voice as a novelist. Outside the university’s confines was a continent in flux; Thiong’o entered Makerere in 1959 as a colonial subject, and left in 1964 as a citizen of independent Kenya. He vividly describes how the colonial regime’s atrocities haunted him and shaped his sensibilities. As he taps his memories and his country’s history for material, he includes insightful commentary on the Land and Freedom Army resistance movement (once known as Mau Mau, a now-disavowed term), the distortions in European and American views of Africa, his social rites of passage at the university, his discovery of the Négritude school of poetry, his uncle’s imprisonment in a British concentration camp, and his mother’s (and mother country’s) sacrifices for his education. Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Birth of a Dream Weaver:
One of Oprah.com's "17 Must-Read Books for the New Year" and O Magazine's "10 Titles to Pick up Now."

“Exquisite in its honesty and truth and resilience, and a necessary chronicle from one of the greatest writers of our time. ”
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Guardian, Best Books of 2016.

"It’s hard to think of another living writer today — Orhan Pamuk, perhaps — who speaks so inspiringly and convincingly about the value of literature. No serious reader will want to miss this riveting story."
The Washington Post

“An eloquent, perceptive memoir. . . Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A writer's coming-of-age tale featuring an artistic mix of pride and humility."
Kirkus Reviews

“An autobiographical masterpiece. . . As essential as Achebe’s There Was a Country, this is a riveting read in African history and literature.”
Library Journal (starred)

"This is a powerful recollection of a turbulent time that produced leaders from Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta to the tyrannical Idi Amin in response to the brutality of a dying colonialism."
Booklist

Praise for Ngugi wa Thiong’o's work:
"Evocative, poignant, and thoughtful, Thiong’o’s courageous narrative will linger in readers’ minds.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

"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."
—John Updike, The New Yorker

"Ngugi has dedicated his life to describing, satirising and destabilising the corridors of power…Still living in exile and writing primarily in Gikuyu, Ngugi continues to spin captivating tales."
The Guardian

"Ngugi has flown over the entire African continent and sniffed out all of the foul stenches rising high into the air: complacency toward despotism, repression of women and ethnic minorities, widespread corruption and—undergirding all of these—a neocolonial system in which today’s lending banks and multinationals have supplanted yesterday’s European overlords."
The New York Times Book Review

Library Journal
★ 09/01/2016
Kenyan author Ngugi (English & comparative literature, Univ. of California, Irvine; Decolonizing the Mind) has written an autobiographical masterpiece that marks his entry into Uganda's Makerere University (1959) as a college student and British colonial subject, to his exit as a citizen of an independent African state (1964). The memoir painstakingly documents the powerful forces that have formed his writing identity—the colonial and postcolonial history of Kenya as well as the influence of numerous authors, from Charles Dickens to Chinua Achebe. Most remarkable is his ability to observe in great detail both political and public pasts as they intersect, inform, challenge, and shape his private life as a student and emerging talent. While tracing significant moments in Kenyan history, the author unfolds the rich complexities that make up his memories. VERDICT Postcolonial historians and readers of African literature will find this work to be an indispensable addition. As essential as Achebe's There Was a Country, this is a riveting read in African history and literature.—Misty Standage, Ivy Tech Community Coll., Evansville, IN
Kirkus Reviews
2016-07-24
The celebrated African novelist, playwright, and activist, born in Kenya in 1938, revisits the early experiences that convinced him he was a writer.Wa Thiong’o (English and Comparative Literature/Univ. of California, Irvine; In the House of the Interpreter, 2015, etc.) is a genial tour guide on this journey through his early years. One theme continually appears: his gratitude for his mother, who encouraged him early and often. The author proceeds in a gentle chronology as he takes us through his home life, schooling, and his discovery that he wanted to write—and that he had a natural talent for the craft. He wrote plays in school (winning a competition) and then began freelancing for local publications, including an extensive stint with a newspaper; he eventually resigned when he realized his passions lay in fiction and drama. Throughout, there are illustrations from his youth, including photos of people and clippings of his early publications and plays. Bubbling just below the surface—sometimes on the surface—is the fierce politics of the era, which featured the end of colonialism, the rise of brutal dictators, and countless ethnic clashes. As he acknowledges, the author was fortunate to avoid trouble early, but he also alludes to later years when he was incarcerated, experiences that are likely to appear in a subsequent memoir. Throughout, wa Thiong’o is careful to credit not just his mother, but some key teachers, friends, and significant supporters. Although the text communicates a clear pride in his accomplishments, the author notes repeatedly that his successes came not just from his talent and work ethic, but also from those who believed in him. He was able to study literature and literary theory at Makerere University in Kampala, Congo, and later at the University of Leeds. Through it all, “the desire to weave dreams remained aflame.” A writer’s coming-of-age tale featuring an artistic mix of pride and humility.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620972403
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
10/04/2016
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
374,977
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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