Secret Lives and Other Stories

5,500

by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

 

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is renowned for his political novels and plays, yet he honed his craft as a short story writer. First published in 1975, Secret Lives and Other Stories brings together a range of Ngugi’s political short stories. From tales of the meeting between magic and superstition, to stories about the modernising forces of colonialism, and the pervasive threat of nature, this collection celebrates the storytelling might of one of Africa’s best-loved writers.

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About Secret Lives and Other Stories

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is renowned for his political novels and plays, yet he honed his craft as a short story writer. First published in 1975, Secret Lives and Other Stories brings together a range of Ngugi’s political short stories. From tales of the meeting between magic and superstition, to stories about the modernising forces of colonialism, and the pervasive threat of nature, this collection celebrates the storytelling might of one of Africa’s best-loved writers.

from preface: “…the stories in this collection form my creative autobiography over the last twelve years and touch on ideas and moods affecting me over the same period. My writing is really an attempt to understand myself and my situation in society and in history.

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ISBN

9781784873370

Page Count

176

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Ngugi wa Thiongo author profile on thebookdealerng

Ngugi lived through the wrenching cultural change he writes about in Petals of Blood. His parents separated when he was a boy, and his education veered from one centered on Kenya’s native Gikuyu language to instruction in English. It was under English schooling that Ngugi fell in love with writing—he emphasizes Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treausure Island as a book that “set my imagination flying.” A gifted child, Ngugi gained admission to an elite high school, and there he became politically radicalized. His whole life was filtered through his Christian faith, his campaigning for more Afrocentric education, and his obsession with writing. In 1955, he returned home from school to a less cerebral agitation: his home village had been ripped apart by an antiguerrilla campaign.

Ngugi’s mother would be tortured for three months because of her suspected collaboration with the guerrillas. It is a testament to Ngugi’s faith in the power of education that, faced with trauma like this, he threw himself into his studies and continued to distinguish himself academically. At Uganda’s Makerere University Ngugi edited magazines, wrote fiction and plays, and became a columnist for Kenya’s flagship newspaper the Daily Nation. After graduating from Makerere, he attended Leeds University in England, where he was introduced to Marxist and anticolonial writers.

Ngugi’s fierce intellect as well as his ideas on labor and African authenticity made him a professional star. In the late ’60s, he became the first African lecturer in Nairobi College’s English department, and eventually moved the department’s emphasis from English to literature in languages from across the African diaspora. He began publishing award-winning novels, and in 1970 he started Petals of Blood, which he finished five years later at the Soviet Writers Union in Yalta.

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