Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening

Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Writer's Awakening

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o


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One of's "17 Must-Read Books for the New Year" and O Magazine's "10 Titles to Pick up Now."

“Exquisite in its honesty and truth and resilience, and a necessary chronicle from one of the greatest writers of our time. ”
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Guardian, Best Books of 2016.

“Every page ripples with a contagious faith in education and in the power of literature to shape the imagination and scour the conscience.”
The Washington Post

From one of the world’s greatest writers, the story of how the author found his voice as a novelist at Makerere University in Uganda

Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years during which he found his voice as a journalist, short story writer, playwright, and novelist just as colonial empires were crumbling and new nations were being born—under the shadow of the rivalries, intrigues, and assassinations of the Cold War.

Haunted by the memories of the carnage and mass incarceration carried out by the British colonial-settler state in his native Kenya but inspired by the titanic struggle against it, Ngũgĩ, then known as James Ngugi, begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is simultaneously the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history, and the emergence of new histories and nations with uncertain futures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620972403
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Note on Nomenclature ix

Prologue xi

1 The Wound in the Heart 1

2 A Wounded Land 7

3 Reds and Blacks 17

4 Benzes, Sneakers, Frisbees, and Flags 53

5 Penpoints and Fig Trees 75

6 Writing for the Money of It 83

7 Black Dolls and Black Masks 103

8 Transition and That Letter from Paris 123

9 Boxers and Black Hermits 141

10 Pages, Stages, Spaces 163

11 Coal, Rubber, Silver, Gold, and New Flags 179

12 Working for the Nation 193

13 Notes and Notebooks 213

14 A Hell of a Paradise 221

Acknowledgments 227

Notes 229

Photograph Sources 237


One of the leading writers and scholars at work today, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. He is the author of A Grain of Wheat; Weep Not, Child; and Petals of Blood, as well as Birth of a Dream Weaver and Wrestling with the Devil (The New Press). He has been nominated for, among other honors, the Man Booker International Prize and is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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