A masterly story of myth, rebellion, love, friendship and betrayal from one of Africa’s great writers, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat includes an introduction by Abdulrazak Gurnah, author of By the Sea, in Penguin Modern Classics.
It is 1963 and Kenya is on the verge of Uhuru – Independence Day. The mighty british government has been toppled, and in the lull between the fighting and the new world, colonized and colonizer alike reflect on what they have gained and lost. In the village of Thabai, the men and women who live there have been transformed irrevocably by the uprising. Kihika, legendary rebel leader, was fatally betrayed to the whiteman. Gikonyo’s marriage to the beautiful Mumbi was destroyed when he was imprisoned, while her life has been shattered in other ways. And Mugo, brave survivor of the camps and now a village hero, harbours a terrible secret. As events unfold, compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed and loves are tested.
Kenyan novelist and playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the author of Weep Not Child (1964), The River Between (1965), and Petals of Blood (1977). Ngugi was chair of the Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi from 1972 to 1977. He left Kenya in 1982 and taught at various universities in the United States before he became professor of comparative literature and performance studies at New York University in 1992.
If you enjoyed A Grain of Wheat, you might like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
‘With Ngugi history is a living tissue … this book adds cubits to his already considerable stature’