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Publisher Description

Barack Obama, via Facebook: “A compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.”

The Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writers best-known novel

Set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya's independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency. At the center of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village's chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As we learn of the villagers' tangled histories in a narrative interwoven with myth and peppered with allusions to real-life leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, a masterly story unfolds in which compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed, and loves are tested.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Fiction & Literature
June 5
Penguin Publishing Group

Customer Reviews

Richard Bakare ,

Personal Freedom - Personal Jail

Revolutions, romanticized and shouted from the rooftops, are not as glorious in reality. When held against the grit of daily living after struggle has past, all dreams seem to crumble. The champions for change are often forgotten and replaced by the opportunistic. Their dreams perverted into some vulgar bureaucratic mutation of the original.

Ngugi does a masterful job of showing how time and folklore create grander pictures of heroes than their very human selves ever were. He also paints a vivid picture of how villains bare the weight of all the vengeance to be extolled from all who suffered before. Every player in the story is merely a different shade of grey.

This book, like those of Achebe highlight the conflicted beauty of the African story during these post colonial years. Hope, pain, regret, pride, and love of country are all mixed together to form a complex soup of experience for the reader. A perspective more illuminating on the African situation than any news coverage will give.

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