Dossier de presse
Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Ngugi wa Thiong'o signs copies of his new book 'Wizard of the Crow'. In London at the Congress Centre in central London. A first book in 20 years following 22 years of exile due to his highly political work (including the bestselling novel Petals of Blood).
Ngugi wa Thiong'o (born January 5, 1938) is a Kenyanauthor, formerly working in English and now working in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, essays and scholarship, criticism and children's literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal, Mutiiri. Ngugi went into self-imposed exile following his release from a Kenyan prison in 1977; living in the United States, he taught at Yale University for some years,and since has also taught at New York University, where he was Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Languages, with a dual professorship in Comparative Literature and Performance Studies, and the University of California, Irvine.
Ngugi was born in Kamiriithu, near Limuru in Kiambu district, of Kikuyu descent, and baptised James Ngugi. His family was caught up in the Mau Mau rebellion; he lost hisstepbrother, and his mother was tortured. While attending mission school, he became a devout Christian. He received a B.A. in English from Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, in 1963; during his education, a play of his, The Black Hermit, was produced in Kampala in 1962.
He published his first novel, Weep Not, Child, in 1964, which he wrote while attending Leeds University inEngland. It was the first novel in English to be published by an East African. His second novel, The River Between (1965), has as its background the Mau Mau rebellion, and described an unhappy romance between Christians and non-Christians.
His novel A Grain of Wheat (1967) marked his embrace of Fanonist Marxism. He subsequently renounced English, Christianity, and the name James Ngugi ascolonialist; he changed his name to Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and began to write in his native Gikuyu and Swahili. The uncensored political message of his 1977 play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want) provoked then Vice President Daniel arap Moi to order his arrest. While detained in the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, he wrote the first modern novel in Gikuyu, Caitaani mutharaba-Ini (Devil on the Cross),on prison-issued toilet paper.
After his release, he was not reinstated to his job as professor at Nairobi University, and his family was harassed. He left Kenya on June 5, 1982, to live in self-imposed exile in London.
His later works include Detained, his prison diary (1981), Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986), an essay arguing for African writers'expression in their native languages, rather than European languages, in order to renounce lingering colonial ties and to build an authentic African literature, and Matigari (1987), one of his most famous works, a satire based on a Gikuyu folktale.
In 1992 he became a professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at New York University, where he held the Erich Maria RemarqueChair. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature as well as the Director of the Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine.
On August 8, 2004, Ngugi ended his exile to return to Kenya as part of a month-long tour of East Africa. On August 11, robbers broke into his apartment: they stole money and a computer, brutalised theprofessor, and raped his wife. Since then, Ngugi has returned to America, and in the summer 2006 the American publishing firm Random House published his first new novel in nearly two decades, "Wizard of the Crow," translated to English from Gikuyu by the author.
On November 10, 2006, while in San Francisco at Hotel Vitale at the Embarcadero, Prof. Thiong'o was harassed and ordered to leave the...