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Penguin African Writers Series

Some of the most distinguished literary works from the African continent, in a series endorsed by Chinua Achebe and building on the foundations of the iconic Heinemann African Writers Series, of which Achebe was the original series editor.
Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Introduction by Namwali Serpell

Penguin African Writers Series : Titles in Order

Book 5
The great Kenyan writer and Nobel Prize nominee’s novel that he wrote in secret, on toilet paper, while in prison—as described in his memoir Wrestling with the Devil

One of the cornerstones of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s fame, Devil on the Cross is a powerful fictional critique of capitalism. It tells the tragic story of Wariinga, a young woman who moves from a rural Kenyan town to the capital, Nairobi, only to be exploited by her boss and later by a corrupt businessman. As she struggles to survive, Wariinga begins to realize that her problems are only symptoms of a larger societal malaise and that much of the misfortune stems from the Western, capitalist influences on her country. An impassioned cry for a Kenya free of dictatorship and for African writers to work in their own local dialects, Devil on the Cross has had a profound influence on Africa and on post-colonial African literature.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Book 4
A 50th-anniversary edition of one of the most powerful novels by the great Kenyan author and Nobel Prize nominee

A legendary work of African literature, this moving and eye-opening novel lucidly captures the drama of a people and culture whose world has been overturned. The River Between explores life in the mountains of Kenya during the early days of white settlement. Faced with a choice between an alluring new religion and their own ancestral customs, the Gikuyu people are torn between those who fear the unknown and those who see beyond it.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Book 3
The Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writer’s powerful first novel

Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a garbage heap and look into their futures: Njoroge is to attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the times are against them: In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau, the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.

The first East African novel published in English, Weep Not, Child is a moving book about the effects of the infamous Mau Mau uprising on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Book 2
Barack Obama, via Facebook: “A compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.”

The Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writer’s best-known novel

Set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya’s independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency. At the center of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village’s chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As we learn of the villagers’ tangled histories in a narrative interwoven with myth and peppered with allusions to real-life leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, a masterly story unfolds in which compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed, and loves are tested.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Book 1
“The definitive African book of the twentieth century” (Moses Isegawa, from the Introduction) by the Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writer

The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a devastating picture emerges of a modern third-world nation whose frustrated people feel their leaders have failed them time after time.

First published in 1977, this novel was so explosive that its author was imprisoned without charges by the Kenyan government. His incarceration was so shocking that newspapers around the world called attention to the case, and protests were raised by human-rights groups, scholars, and writers, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Harold Pinter, and Margaret Drabble.

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