MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Wizard of the Crow

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Wizard of the Crow

A Novel

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o X
Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 784 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2007, 784 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to Wizard of the Crow

Print Review

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (pronounced GU-gi wa-ti-ONG-go) was born into a large peasant family, in the Kiambu district of Kenya in 1938. He was the fifth child of the third of his father's four wives and is of Kikuyu descent. He was baptized James Ngugi, and later became a devout Christian while at missionary school; but around 1967 he rejected his baptismal name, and changed his name to Ngugi wa Thiong'o. His family was caught up in the Mau Mau rebellion (an insurgency by Kenyan freedom fighters against the British colonial administration (1952 - 1960) during which he lost his stepbrother and his mother was tortured.

He burst onto the literary scene in East Africa with the performance of his first major play, The Black Hermit, at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda, in 1962, while he was still at university. The following year Kenya gained its independence from Britain. In a highly productive literary period, Ngugi published and wrote stories, plays, novels, and a Sunday newspaper column. In 1964 his novel, Weep Not Child, was published to critical acclaim (apparently, it was the first novel in English to be published by an East African). This was followed by The River Between and A Grain of Wheat, which represented a turning point in the formal and ideological direction of his works - rejecting English colonialism and embracing Marxism.

Between 1967 and 1977 he was a university lecturer. In 1977 his first novel in ten years, Petals of Blood, was published. It painted a harsh and unsparing picture of life in neo-colonial Kenya and was received with critical acclaim in Kenya and abroad. The same year his controversial play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), co-written with Ngugi wa Mirii, was performed; it was sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society.  Soon after, wa Thiong'o was arrested and imprisoned without charge in a maximum security prison.

In prison, he wrote the novel Caitaani Mutharabaini on prison-issued toilet paper, later translated into English as Devil on the Cross. He also wrote down notes that later became the basis of his memoir, Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary. After Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release a year later, but he was barred by the State from holding a job at any university or college. He stayed in Kenya, continuing to work and voicing his opinions, but in 1982 he learned of plans to arrest him, so he and his family left for Britain, later moving to the USA in 1989. He has continued to write prolifically, and his books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

He is now a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He married his first wife, Nyambura, in 1961 with whom he had six children, Thiong'o, Kimunya, Nduchu, Mukoma, Wanjiku and Njoki. Kimunya graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Nairobi, the rest attended US universities. Following Nyambura's death, wa Thiong'o is now married to Njeeri, with whom he has two children, 10-year-old Mumbi-Wanjiku and Thiong'o, aged nine years.  Njeeri also has an older daughter.

For more about Kenya, see the "BookBrowse Says" for Unbowed by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Wizard of the Crow. It originally ran in November 2006 and has been updated for the August 2007 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 3 months or $12 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Revisioners
    The Revisioners
    by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
    The chapters of Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's second novel, The Revisioners, alternate between three ...
  • Book Jacket: Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
    Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
    by Dexter Palmer
    The year is 1726 and the sleepy town of Godalming has been rocked by scandal. Called to the bedside ...
  • Book Jacket: Life Undercover
    Life Undercover
    by Amaryllis Fox
    Life Undercover, a riveting true-adventure memoir, reveals how and why a young woman decides to work...
  • Book Jacket: Celestial Bodies
    Celestial Bodies
    by Jokha Alharthi
    One typically expects to find a detailed family tree adorning the opening pages of, say, an epic ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Lost Man
by Jane Harper

"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"
—BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan

    A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    You Were There Too
    by Colleen Oakley

    Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Giveaway!
Win American Dirt

"A Grapes of Wrath for our times." - Don Winslow

This debut is already being hailed as a new American classic, and is the first book to receive a perfect 5-stars from BookBrowse reviewers!

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I A Broke, D F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.