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.
- First time in Penguin Classics
The great Kenyan writer's powerful first novelhis best-known work
Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a garbage heap and look into their futures: Njoroge is to attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the times are against them: In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau, the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.
First published in 1964, Weep Not, Child is a moving novel about the effects of the infamous Mau Mau uprising on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular.
The quintessential story collection from "the most important black South African writer of the present age" (George Moore).
Originally published in 1967, In Corner B contains the core stories of the original editions, together with more recent pieces, and is the first new edition of Mphahlele's work since his death in 2008. Written after his return from exile, these stories inimitably capture life in both rural and urban South Africa during the days of apartheid. A new introduction by Peter Thuynsma, a South African scholar and former Mphahlele student, presents the "dean of African letters" to a new generation of readers.
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.
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.
About the Author
(1919–2008) published two autobiographies, Down Second Avenue
and Afrika My Music
, and three novels, The Wanderers
, and Father Came Home
, in addition to short stories and nonfiction. His short story collection, In Corner B
, is available from Penguin Classics. Ngugi wa Thiong’o
’s writings have been translated into more than thirty languages. His novels Petals of Blood
; Weep Not, Child
; and A Grain of Wheat
are available in Penguin Classics. He lives in Irvine, California.