One day I will write about this place by Binyavanga Wainaina


binyavanga

Author is mostly known for

  • Refusing the young global leaders awards/nominations
  • He has a very distinctive style (personality and in his writing)
  • He has come out as a homosexual recently
  • Wainaina has collected over 13,000 recipes from around Africa and is an expert on traditional and modern African cuisines

Others publications 

  1. “Discovering Home”” (short story, G21Net, 2001)
  2. An Affair to Dismember”” (short story)
  3. Beyond the River Yei: Life in the Land Where Sleeping is a Disease”” (photographic essay, Kwani Trust), with Sven Torfinn
  4. How To Write About Africa”” (article, satire, Granta 92 2005)
  5. In Gikuyu, for Gikuyu, of Gikuyu”” (article, satire, Granta 103, 2008)
  6. One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir (autobiography, Graywolf Press, 2011)
  7. Viewpoint: Binyavanga on why Africa’s international image is unfair””, BBC News Africa, 24 April 2012.
  8. How to Write About Africa II: The Revenge””, Bidoun, #21 Bazaar II
  9. I am a homosexual, mum (A lost chapter from One Day I Will Write About This Place)””, Africa is a Country, 19 January 2014″

Prizes/Awards 

Caine prize for African writing

Author whereabouts  

Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and Languages at Bard College. (Until recently, Wainaina went back to Kenya)

Excerpt

In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother’s religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood.

Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties.

Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliché, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.

Key themes/Topics 

  1. Life in Kenya (mainly the cities and surroundings as well as the slums)
  2. Life in rural Kenya
  3. Kenya ethnic divide
  4. Kenyan politics
  5. Ugandan politics & history
  6. Rwandan history
  7. African politics
  8. South-Africa evolution from the apartheid to post-apartheid era
  9. South-African Universities  and African students
  10. Immigration
  11. Travelling around Africa
  12. Africa’s multicultural mix

I found strange

It took me close to 4 months to finish this book. I usually read a book in less than a week. What happened then? Well, the writing style was very different, almost strange I would say. In the first chapters of  the novel, a  five years old Wainana is telling the reader about his life – life in school, in Kenya and  at home. It is very difficult to follow the various stories, to make links, connect a paragraph to another or just plainly understand what is actually being portrayed. I think that’s where the beauty of this book lies. I know it sounds a bit contrary, but when you think about it, this memoir was written in a way I had never encountered before. Sometimes, I would be on very well-known ground, while most of the time I would struggle to keep up with it all. It was quite an experience. In the end, I did like it very much.

I found brilliant 

This book is the memoir of a regular guy leaving in a regular middle-class family. What is really awesome about the book is the angle in which politics is approached every time. It is always lurking on the background. Politics is never the main topic or issue.  When you think about it, it makes all sense. Politics in Africa is everybody’s business, regardless of your involvement or not with the government apparatus. Its affects people’s live in very dramatic ways. I also really liked the fact that the author did actually travel around, a lot, inside Africa. He even went to Senegal. Now that’s cool!

What to expect 

The book was not easy to read, but you get used to it at one point. If you want to experiment with a new style of creative writing then I recommend this book. Otherwise, you might as well try something new and devoid of unnecessary clichés.

Did you read this book?

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2 responses to “One day I will write about this place by Binyavanga Wainaina

  1. Pingback: Under The Neem Tree Best books of 2014 | Under the neem Tree·

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