#WeTurnToBooks is Brittle Paper‘s first ever Instagram Live series. Our second guest for the series, following Jeanne-Marie Jackson-Awotwi, was Mukoma wa Ngũgĩ. Mukoma is an Associate Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity, and Ownership, the novels Mrs. Shaw, Black Star Nairobi, and Nairobi Heat, and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. He has a new novel about competing Tizita musicians, Unbury Our Dead with Song, forthcoming in Fall 2020 with Cassava Republic Press.

It was a real honor for us to host Mukoma. Not only did we get to hear him read out some of his beautiful poems, but we also got a glimpse of his chickens! Mukoma also shared with us his perspective on the role literature has to play in times of crisis. “Writers with their words help us to witness, or to see what we are witnessing,” he says near the start of the chat. All the more reason indeed that #WeTurnToBooks.

For our readers who missed the chat, watch it below. It is also available on our Instagram TV channel.

Many thanks to Mukoma for a lovely chat!