Ngugi wa Thiong’o is considered to be one of the most important living African authors. The 79 year old, often discussed as a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize, has lived most of his life in exile due to the Kenyan authorities tolerating neither his books nor the fact that he eventually chose to write in his native kikuyu. Thiong’o is responsible for the first novel in this language, it was written on toilet paper during a period of incarceration.
Kenya before, during and after independence
Being raised during the colonial period in Kenya was of great significance to the author. He survived the Mau Mau Uprising in the 1950s and, as a result, the fight for cultural and intellectual freedom became key to him. In his novel The River Between, Thiong’o outlines three ways of dealing with colonialism: to embrace it, reject it or counter it. Without suggesting which is the correct approach, he makes it clear to the reader that each comes with its own challenges.
50 years since A Grain of Wheat
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of A Grain of Wheat. The book portrays a pre-independence Kenya, and is a story of rebellion and betrayal, love and friendship.
A visit to Lillehammer at the end of May
The Norwegian Festival of Literature is proud to present Ngugi wa Thiong’o as one of this year’s most esteemed guests. In addition to his participation in the festival programme, he will also be taking part in the ICORN/PEN International conference “In Other Words”, being held in Lillehammer alongside and in partnership with the literary festival.
Visitors to the festival will have plenty of opportunities to experience Thiong’o on stage in Lillehammer, explains festival director, Marit Borkenhagen. Tonje Vold, an expert on post-colonial, African literature will interview Thiong’o, he will also be in conversation with Grace Mutandwa, from Zimbabwe, where he will tell about his journey into a life of exile and how this has influenced his work as an author.