The Broken Word: An Epic Poem of the British Empire in Kenya, and the Mau Mau Uprising Against It

Overview

The stunning debut from "one of the best British writers to emerge in the past decade." (Julian Barnes)

With a voice that is at once fierce and lyrical, Adam Foulds tells the story of the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in 1950s Kenya. Tom, a young man who has returned to his family's farm, rapidly becomes caught up in the intensifying events of violence and brutality in a conflict Foulds illustrates as both utterly contemporary and yet deeply burdened by the ...

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The Broken Word: An Epic Poem of the British Empire in Kenya, and the Mau Mau Uprising Against It

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Overview

The stunning debut from "one of the best British writers to emerge in the past decade." (Julian Barnes)

With a voice that is at once fierce and lyrical, Adam Foulds tells the story of the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in 1950s Kenya. Tom, a young man who has returned to his family's farm, rapidly becomes caught up in the intensifying events of violence and brutality in a conflict Foulds illustrates as both utterly contemporary and yet deeply burdened by the history of race and empire in this region. The Broken Word was the recipient of the Costa (Whitbread) Poetry Award, and Foulds's The Quickening Maze was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This book-length poem, which won the 2008 Costa Poetry Award, describes the 1950s Mau Mau uprising against the English colonialists in Kenya. Author of two novels, Foulds (The Quickening Maze) here uses fictional techniques, especially the slow release of facts, to build tension. He forges a personal account of the uprising by presenting the story of Tom, a student who has returned home to Africa to find that everything has changed. Focusing on the interplay between servants and masters, revolutionaries and colonialists, the poems show that Tom's ranching neighbors believe they are absolutely right to kill any Mau Mau seeking freedom. As Carolyn Forché did in The Country Between Us, Foulds matter-of-factly reveals the horror of torture, as when he catalogs two natives' remaining parts: "nine fingers, two ears, three eyes, no testicles." Section 2 (of ten), titled "Dinner," begins with a quick dart to the macabre: "Frank was dead and he was very tired./ …one ear falling away,/ nose tip and lower lip gone,/ dress shirt dyed plum." The shock factor is increased by continual reference to the natural world, and Tom's psychic battles continue when he returns to England. VERDICT A tour de force of a long narrative poem, rare in contemporary English poetry.—Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118091
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Series: Poets, Penguin Series
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 1,191,844
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Foulds was born in 1974, graduated Oxford University, took a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia, and now lives in South London. His book-length narrative poem, THE BROKEN WORD, was shortlisted for a number of awards, including the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and won the 2008 Whitbread Costa Poetry Award. His first novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT THESE STRANGE TIMES, was published in 2007 and he was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2008. Penguin will publish THE BROKEN WORD in winter 2011.

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