Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Mukoma 1

Kate Haines: What do you most admire about your father’s writing style?

 Mukoma wa Ngugi: My favourite book and I teach it, is A Grain of Wheat.  I like A Grain of Wheat, because certainly the political questions are there – betrayal, colonialism, violence – but I find it fascinating the way the questions are outside, so we get to see the characters still going about their lives.  My favourite scene in that book is when all the kids – at that point they are still young, the betrayals and the deaths haven’t come yet – are competing against each other to see who will get to the train first.  As it turns out, this is something they used to do as kids.

Going back to some of the differences, I feel that for him realist fiction works.  For me, I feel I can’t do a straight-up realist book because there were so many ridiculous things that happened when I was growing up.  For example you couldn’t dream of Kenyatta’s death or at some point you couldn’t gather more than 5 people – you had to get a permit. I started thinking of that when I taught Helon Habila’sWaiting for an Angel, which is told in fragmented voices.  I kept thinking ‘how can you capture that Nigeria in straight up realist fiction?’ For a generation that grows up with all kinds of ridiculous but iconic things – how do you capture that? When you look at Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, I think that is the reason why it is sort of fragmented.  There are high levels of absurdity, but at the same time there are tragedies that are happening, people are dying and there is absolute poverty.  You can’t deal with that in a straight memoir.  Whereas my Dad’s memoir is a narrative that has a beginning, and follows that through.  Thinking about my detective fiction, I don’t know if I could have these extreme characters in a realist novel.

Read full interview here.

Mukoma wa Ngugi is the author of popular crime fiction Nairobi Heat. The sequel Black Star Nairobi was published in May 2013.

More “Africans on Writing” posts:

AFRICANS ON WRITING: Chimamanda On What To Read When You Write

AFRICANS ON WRITING: Igoni Barret on How to Write the Tech-Conscious Story

Image via

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.
advert

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The Heart of It: Working Through Xenophobia in South Africa | Ruksana Elk

XENOPHOBIA - South African civil society and private citizens march in protest against xenophobic violence in Johannesburg. EPA-EFE and Yeshiel Panchia

READ: 15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa Talking xenophobia with South Africans of all classes […]

The Brittle Paper Interview with the Caine Prize 2019 Winner: Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah with bust of Sir Michael Caine - credit to John Cobb slash Caine Prize

In July, Lesley Nneka Arimah received the 2019 Caine Prize, the award’s twentieth edition, for her short story “Skinned,” published […]

Hollywood or Nollywood? As Americanah TV Series Goes to HBO, Actress Stella Damasus Suggests Industry Slight & Chika Unigwe Responds

danai gurira, lupita nyong'o, chimamanda adichie, stella damasus, chika unigwe

The Americanah TV series adaptation, starring Lupita Nyong’o and written by Danai Gurira, has been ordered by HBO Max. The […]

15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa

xenophobia in south africa - photo by guillerme sartori for agence france press and getty images

Once again, this September, xenophobic violence was unleashed on other Africans, mostly Nigerians, in South Africa: businesses were closed, shops […]

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.