Wizard of Crow by N’gugi Wa Thiong’o

Author is mostly known for

1.He renouces his christian and colonial name “James” and adopts N’gugi

2.He renounces writing  in english in favour of writing in  Gikuyu. However, his work is translated in english

3. He has been in political exile for more than 20 years in the United States

Others publications 

Plays

  • The Black Hermit, 1963
  • his Time Tomorrow (three plays, including the title play, “The Reels”, and “The Wound in the Heart”), c. 1970
  • The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (play), 1976, ISBN 0-435-90191-5, African Publishing Group, ISBN 0-949932-45-0 (with Micere Githae Mugo and Njaka)
  • Ngaahika Ndeenda: Ithaako ria ngerekano (I Will Marry When I Want), 1977 (play; with Ngugi wa Mirii), Heinemann Educational Books (1980)

Novels

  • Weep Not, Child
  • The River Between
  • A Grain of Wheat
  • Petals of Blood
  • Caitaani mutharaba-Ini (Devil on the Cross), 1980

Essays

  • Homecoming: Essays on African and Caribbean Literature, Culture, and Politics, Heinemann, 1972,
  • A Meeting in the Dark (1974)
  • Secret Lives, and Other Stories
  • Writers in Politics: Essays
  • Education for a National Culture
  • Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary
  • Devil on the Cross
  • Barrel of a Pen: Resistance to Repression in Neo-Colonial Kenya, 1983
  • Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
  • Mother, Sing For Me
  • Writing against Neo-Colonialism

Children’s

  • Njamba Nene and the Flying Bus (Njamba Nene na Mbaathi i Mathagu)
  • Matigari ma Njiruungi
  • Njamba Nene and the Cruel Chief (Njamba Nene na Chibu King’ang’i)
  • Matigari
  • Njamba Nene’s Pistol (Bathitoora ya Njamba Nene)

Memoir

  • Dreams in a Time of War: a Childhood Memoir
  • In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir
  • Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance

Sources :http://wikipedia.com & http://ngugiwathiongo.com

Prizes/Awards 

  • 1973 Lotus Prize for Literature
  • 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature
  • Nominated for the Man Booker International Prize
  • 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award (finalist Autobiography) for In the House of the Interpreter
  • 2014 Nicolás Guillén Lifetime Achievement Award for Philosophical Literature

Author whereabouts 

N’gugi wa Thiong’o is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.

Excerpt

 From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic–a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature.

In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngugi wa Thiong’o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise. His aim in Wizard of the Crow is, in his own words,nothing less than “to sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history.”

Commencing in “our times” and set in the “Free Republic of Aburiria,” the novel dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburirian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry; and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.

Informed by richly enigmatic traditional African storytelling, Wizard of the Crow is a masterpiece, the crowning achievement in Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s career thus far.

Key themes/Topics

  • Colonialism and (Neo) colonialism
  • Dictatorship and military rules
  • Religion and religious fanaticism
  • Are people in Africa free from religion, dictatorship and colonialism?
  • Feminism
  • African culture
  • Africa between Modernism and tradition
  • HIV among the young people
  • Corruption and nepotism
  • Unemployment among the young graduates
  • City dwellers
  • Capitalist system
  • Communism system

I found strange

I loved the magic aspect of the novel very much. I really do. But at one point, we were getting in the realm of too much magic, if i can say so. Honestly, it is a  very minor thing that has no real impact on the novel.

I found brilliant

This is a great novel that portrayed all the issues and ills of contemporary Africa. The author himself said that his aim with this book was :

To sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history

After reading the book, all  I can say is  Mission accomplished. What I liked the most is the place of magic in the novel. Magic in Africa is omnipresent and everywhere. It forces people to do or not things, and very strange things sometimes. Which means, it can be used to control people and their minds. Even the most evil politicians is very scared at the mere mention of the word Magic. It is incredible that this word hold so much power in Africa. However, it is dismissed by outsiders, mainly westerners. They don’t understand how civilized and educated people can believe in such silly things. Well… they do. I always say that our leaders should use magic and its clout to positively influence their people. The author did a wonderful job with magic in his story. It is always present, sometimes in the background of the story being told, sometimes at the forefront.

I also listed feminism as one of the themes because, I frankly read excellent comments on women conditions in Africa. Although, some comments  were really sarcastic and sardonic, they ring true. To tell the truth, I was very surprised to see them there. I would not have associated this author with women rights. His only work I read was something torn and new, an excellent book I reviewed in this blog. I reproduced one quote from Good reads that  illustrates my point about feminism very well:

Does rough weather choose men over women? Does the sun beat on men, leaving women nice and cool?’ Nyawira asked rather sharply. ‘Women bear the brunt of poverty. What choices does a woman have in life, especially in times of misery? She can marry or live with a man. She can bear children and bring them up, and be abused by her man. Have you read Buchi Emecheta of Nigeria, Joys of Motherhood? Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe, say, Nervous Conditions? Mariama Ba of Senegal, So Long A Letter? Three women from different parts of Africa, giving words to similar thoughts about the condition of women in Africa.’

‘I am not much of a reader of fiction,’ Kamiti said. ‘Especially novels by African women. In India such books are hard to find.’

‘Surely even in India there are women writers? Indian women writers?’ Nyawira pressed. ‘Arundhati Roy, for instance, The God of Small Things? Meena Alexander, Fault Lines? Susie Tharu. Read Women Writing in India. Or her other book, We Were Making History, about women in the struggle!’

‘I have sampled the epics of Indian literature,’ Kamiti said, trying to redeem himself. ‘Mahabharata, Ramayana, and mostly Bhagavad Gita. There are a few others, what they call Purana, Rig-Veda, Upanishads … Not that I read everything, but …’

‘I am sure that those epics and Puranas, even the Gita, were all written by men,’ Nyawira said. ‘The same men who invented the caste system. When will you learn to listen to the voices of women?”
― Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’oWizard of the Crow

What to expect

800 plus pages of storytelling. An authentic african story. You have politics, social problems, magic, religion, love, village life, colonialism, white people etc… All the ingredients necessary for a good comtemporary african novel. It’s a satirical fiction. The main theme is African Politics and its consequences. From my perspective, the main idea of the novel is that despot should beware of the power of people. Indeed, the movement of the people was the hero of the novel.

Barack Obama said:

Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change

I agree . Excellent book, I strongly recommend it.

Have you read wizard of crow? Please share you thoughts on the comment box below.

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2 responses to “Wizard of Crow by N’gugi Wa Thiong’o

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

  2. I recently read this book and I also absolutely loved it, too–for many of the reasons you name. I,too, was surprised at its explicit statements of feminism and about how women bear the brunt of poverty.

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