Binyavanga Wainaina’s complete collection of essays How to Write About Africa is set for US publication in 2023. While the collection was recently released in the UK in September 2022 by Penguin, the US version will be published June 2023 by One World, an imprint of Random House.
Wainaina was a Kenyan author and journalist, known as “one of Africa’s most influential and eloquent essayists.” Having passed away in 2019, How to Write About Africa is a “posthumous collection that highlights his biting satire and subversive wisdom on topics from travel to cultural identity to sexuality.”
The essay collection is titled after his widely acclaimed satirical essay “How to Write About Africa” published in Granta magazine in 2005. In this essay, Wainaina spoke about the racist stereotypes about Africa that Western media tends to reinforce when representing the continent.
Read a short excerpt from Wainaina’s essay below:
Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.
How to Write About Africa puts together many of Wainaina’s popular pieces until 2008 in a set of linked essays about sexuality, art, history, and contemporary Africa. A future volume planned for publication will include Wainaina’s “lost chapter” from his debut memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place (2011) – an essay called “I Am a Homosexual, Mum.”
The publisher’s note describes the essay collection as “playful, robust, generous and full-bodied,” where Wainaina “describes the modern world with sensual, emotional, and psychological detail, giving us a full-color view of a country and continent.”
Binyavanga Wainaina was a renowned Kenyan writer and journalist. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002 and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014. He was a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights and often wrote in response to the waves of anti-queer laws in Africa. Check out this list of some of his other well-known articles.
We are thrilled to see Wainaina’s great legacy embodied through this essay collection! Preorder on Amazon here.