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Down Second Avenue (Penguin Classics)by Es'kia Mphahlele
Synopses & Reviews
The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a devastating picture emerges of a modern third-world nation whose frustrated people feel their leaders have failed them time after time. First published in 1977, this novel was so explosive that its author was imprisoned without charges by the Kenyan government. His incarceration was so shocking that newspapers around the world called attention to the case, and protests were raised by human-rights groups, scholars, and writers, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Harold Pinter, and Margaret Drabble.
Es’kia Mphahlele’s seminal memoir of life in apartheid South Africa—available for the first time in Penguin Classics
Nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1969, Es’kia Mphahlele is considered the Dean of African Letters and the father of black South African writing. Down Second Avenue is a landmark book that describes Mphahlele’s experience growing up in segregated South Africa. Vivid, graceful, and unapologetic, it details a daily life of severe poverty and brutal police surveillance under the subjugation of an apartheid regime. Banned in South Africa after its original 1959 publication for its protest against apartheid, Down Second Avenue is a foundational work of literature that continues to inspire activists today.
The best-known novel by the great Kenyan writer
Set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya's independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency. At the center of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village's chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As we learn of the villagers' tangled histories in a narrative interwoven with myth and peppered with allusions to real-life leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, a masterly story unfolds in which compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed, and loves are tested.
About the Author
Ngugi�wa Thiong'o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. One of the leading African writers and scholars at work today, he is the author of many novels, short stories, essays, a memoir, and several plays, and recipient of numerous high honors. Currently he is Distinguished Professor in the School of Humanities and director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine.
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