Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is primarily known as a novelist, having published one of the first English-language novels by an East African, Weep Not, Child (1964). This novel, The River Between (1965), A Grain of Wheat (1967), and Petals of Blood (1977) re-create the cultural history of the Gikuyu people and the emergence of modern Kenya. His fifth novel, Caitaani Mutharaba-Ini (1980; Devil on the Cross, 1982), combines elements of Gikuyu oral tradition with satire on neocolonial exploitation and realism portraying the victims of that exploitation. Writing fiction for the first time in his native Gikuyu, Ngugi completed his own translations into Kiswahili and English. In addition to his novels, Ngugi has also published a collection of early short stories, Secret Lives and Other Stories (1975), which gathers his work in this genre from the early 1960’s to the mid-1970’s.

Ngugi has also written extensively as a social and literary critic. His collection of literary criticism, Homecoming: Essays on African and Caribbean Literature, Culture, and Politics (1972), testifies to the maturation of his social vision, including speculations on Mau Mau, nationalism, socialism, and capitalism. A second collection of essays, Writers in Politics (1981; revised 1997), asserts that the function of the writer in society is essentially a political one, however explicitly mute or vocal the writer...

(The entire section is 562 words.)