Popular Kenya Books

30+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On Kenya

Discover the list of some best books written on Kenya by popular award winning authors. These book on topic Kenya highly popular among the readers worldwide.

3.2/5

The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson , Rachel Willson-Broyles (Translator)

The sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined The sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harbouring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un …Soon Allan and Julius are at the centre of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Things are about to get very complicated …

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3.1/5

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl Markham is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl Markham is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

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4.3/5

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all i After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites. As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.

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3.9/5

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani

"This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country’s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean--what the Kikuyu called the 'Iron Snake' and the British called the 'Lunatic Express.'" -- New York Times Book R "This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country’s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean--what the Kikuyu called the 'Iron Snake' and the British called the 'Lunatic Express.'" -- New York Times Book Review , Editors’ Choice "Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple story lines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and distribution of information...Once Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing relaxes, and it’s here that you can see his raw talent...I have never read a novel about [Kenya] that’s so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly." -- New York Times Book Review "Destined to become one of the greats...This is not hyperbole: it’s a masterpiece." -- The Gazette "A multi-racial nation-building tale that begins during the construction of the railway from Mombasa to Nairobi. There are three men at its heart: two white, a British administrator known as 'Master' and an Anglican minister; one brown, an Indian technician who sires a male child, a birth that will reverberate down through the years." -- Toronto Star "A fascinating part of Kenya’s history, real and imagined, is revealed and reclaimed by one of its own." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune "But the novel has way more strengths than I can describe here, including the beauty of lyrical narration that combines irony, flashback, humour, allusions and inter-textual references, all of which are expertly manipulated to give the reader a gem of a story populated by composite characters, a story that, though revisiting old themes and times, does so with the freshness that one would expect of established literary geniuses." -- Daily Nation "The author has built here not only, on these pages, not only a railroad, but the singular triumph of a highly diverting novel. Besides weaving an excellent plot-line, he offers the reader a classic, understated writing style that haunts much of this book, turns it into a minor masterpiece." -- RALPH Magazine , Starred review "Peter Kimani, an acclaimed writer and poet, has brilliantly constructed this novel’s plot...[His] lyrical prose, such as portraying the train as ‘a massive snakelike creature,’ and his breathtaking descriptions of ‘God’s country’ bring the beauty of the land before our eyes." -- Historical Novels Review Set in the shadow of Kenya's independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation. The novel traces the lives and loves of three men--preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim--whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child. Years later, when Babu's grandson Rajan--who ekes out a living by singing Babu's epic tales of the railway's construction--accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men's shared, murky past. With its riveting multiracial, multicultural cast and diverse literary allusions, Dance of the Jakaranda could well be a story of globalization. Yet the novel is firmly anchored in the African oral storytelling tradition, its language a dreamy, exalted, and earthy mix that creates new thresholds of identity, providing a fresh metaphor for race in contemporary Africa.

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4.7/5

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Librarian's note: This is an Alternate Cover Edition for ISBN10: 0399547584 ISBN13: 9780399547584. In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn't exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Librarian's note: This is an Alternate Cover Edition for ISBN10: 0399547584 ISBN13: 9780399547584. In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn't exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill's personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it. With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

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4.4/5

Safari Ants, Baggy Pants And Elephants: A Kenyan Odyssey by Susie Kelly

The long-awaited sequel to Susie Kelly's US Amazon Top 40 ranking memoir I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry More than 40 years after leaving Kenya, Susie unexpectedly finds herself returning for a safari organised by an old friend. With her husband Terry, Susie sets off for a holiday touring the game reserves, but what she finds far exceeds her expectations. In this, her seven The long-awaited sequel to Susie Kelly's US Amazon Top 40 ranking memoir I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry More than 40 years after leaving Kenya, Susie unexpectedly finds herself returning for a safari organised by an old friend. With her husband Terry, Susie sets off for a holiday touring the game reserves, but what she finds far exceeds her expectations. In this, her seventh, travelogue, she takes readers from five star hotels to luxury tents in the wilderness, and to poverty in Nairobi's slums, describing a journey of joy, excitement, discovery, nostalgia, of new friendships and encounters of the very close kind with Kenya’s majestic wildlife. Forgotten memories come flooding back as she revisits the scenes of her childhood and adolescence, so movingly portrayed in her popular memoir I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry, many of them changed beyond recognition. Written in her characteristic laid back style, this is a travel tale that will appeal to all those readers who have enjoyed Susie's previous books, as well as anybody who has lived in or dreams of visiting Kenya, the magical land Susie still thinks of as ‘home’. 'Vivid, moving, entertaining. Anybody thinking of taking a safari holiday in Kenya, or who would like to take an armchair safari to Kenya, should read this book.' "Hemingway wrote: 'I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.' That is how I feel about Kenya. You feel at once insignificant and amazing, just for being here. This magnificent, beautiful country, birthplace of mankind, owner of my heart." Susie Kelly, 2017 WHAT READERS ARE SAYING: 'I’ve just been on a wonderful safari trip to Kenya! At least that’s how it felt. As a lover of all wildlife this was a trip that I could only ever dream about, but this book more than satisfied my curiosity and thirst for knowledge about African wildlife.' MRS BLOGGS BOOKS 'A wonderful & poignant African safari. Being an animal fanatic I enjoyed learning so much about African wildlife from this book and also the incredible people who care for, and protect it' SUSAN KEEFE 'Susie is a great ambassador for Kenya. It’s the best safari experience you are likely to get, without going on safari!' FRENCH VILLAGE DIARIES 'I consider myself rather knowledgeable about wildlife, yet I still found plenty here that was new to me about the animals and the Masai Mara in particular.' ANDREW IVES 'Susie Kelly's books are always a delight to read. The descriptions were informative, insightful and at times hilarious.' 'Wonderful read. I have avidly read each of Susie's previously published books.' 'One of my best reads ever. Cannot recommend this book enough - beautifully written (as always) and having lived in Kenya myself during the same period empathise totally with every word she writes.' 'Personal, Funny, Informative and Memorable! It's so very well-written, so easy to read, so funny and entertaining, so informative and educational.' 'I'm a big fan of Susie Kelly and her travels. Susie - where you going next? I'll be in my armchair right there with you!' 'What a fabulous trip. Delightful.' 'Thoroughly enjoyable as well as being informative. Certainly made me look forward to such a journey some day!' 'Susie Kelly has a wonderful way with words and descriptions and a fantastic sense of humour.' 'More than your average safari. I pre-ordered the book, received it on 6th June and read it the same day...phone off the hook and cup of tea at hand.

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4.1/5

Ghosts of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani

Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Beatrice Knight arrives in colonial Kenya desperate for a pot of tea and a pinch of cinnamon. But she’ll need more than that if she’s to unravel the mystery of the Ghosts of Tsavo without being eaten in the process. All this while surviving the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfath Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Beatrice Knight arrives in colonial Kenya desperate for a pot of tea and a pinch of cinnamon. But she’ll need more than that if she’s to unravel the mystery of the Ghosts of Tsavo without being eaten in the process. All this while surviving the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfather and the efforts of her safari guide to feed her to any lion willing to drag her away. What is a ghost-chasing widow to do? This is Case #1 in the “Society for Paranormals” series: A series concerning dead husbands, African legends and the search for a perfect spot of tea. For those readers who adore “Pride & Prejudice” and would love to experience “The Parasol Protectorate” set in colonial Africa, this is for you!

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4.4/5

Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival by Jeffrey Gettleman

A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to East Africa—a terrifying, exciting, dreamlike part of the world in the throes of change that imprinted itself on his imagination and on his heart. But around that same time he also fell in love with a fellow Cornell student—the brightest, classiest, most principled woman he’d ever met. To say they were opposites was an understatement. She became a criminal lawyer in America; he hungered to return to Africa. For the next decade he would be torn between these two abiding passions. A sensually rendered coming-of-age story in the tradition of Barbarian Days, Love, Africa is a tale of passion, violence, far-flung adventure, tortuous long-distance relationships, screwing up, forgiveness, parenthood, and happiness that explores the power of finding yourself in the most unexpected of places.

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3.6/5

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence

To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education. In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.

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3.2/5

Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom by Suzi Eszterhas (Photographs)

Moto and Me tells the firsthand story of wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas’s care for an orphaned baby serval—a small, spotted wildcat—in Kenya. When a grass fire separates the serval from his family, a ranger asks Suzi, who is living in a bush camp and is skilled with animals, to be the serval’s foster mom. The book chronicles Suzi’s tender care of Moto, including how s Moto and Me tells the firsthand story of wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas’s care for an orphaned baby serval—a small, spotted wildcat—in Kenya. When a grass fire separates the serval from his family, a ranger asks Suzi, who is living in a bush camp and is skilled with animals, to be the serval’s foster mom. The book chronicles Suzi’s tender care of Moto, including how she feeds, bathes, and plays with him, and helps him develop hunting skills. Her goal is to help him learn how to survive on his own in the wild. After 6 months, he is ready to leave—a difficult good-bye, but exactly what Suzi had worked for.

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4.5/5

Today Is the Day by Eric Walters , Eugenie Fernandes (Illustrations)

Mutanu is excited. As she goes about her chores, she thinks about the day to come and what surprises it might bring. For today is no ordinary day at the orphanage she lives in. Every year, the orphanage honors its newest arrivals by creating a birthday day especially for them. From that moment forward, the orphans have a day that they know is theirs--a day to celebrate, a Mutanu is excited. As she goes about her chores, she thinks about the day to come and what surprises it might bring. For today is no ordinary day at the orphanage she lives in. Every year, the orphanage honors its newest arrivals by creating a birthday day especially for them. From that moment forward, the orphans have a day that they know is theirs--a day to celebrate, a day to enjoy, a day to remember. And today is the day!       Based on real children in an orphanage in Kenya, this lovely story shows how something as simple as a birthday, something most of us take for granted, can mean so much in another part of the world.

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3.8/5

Hell's Gate by Richard Crompton

The gripping second novel in Crompton’s sharply plotted Mollel series—"a compulsive whodunit" (Ian Rankin) It must have been someone's idea of a joke. Too many offended egos back at headquarters, too many influential people unhappy with him in Nairobi. And yet, with his record, almost impossible to dismiss. So where had they sent Mollel? Straight to Hell. When Mollel, a form The gripping second novel in Crompton’s sharply plotted Mollel series—"a compulsive whodunit" (Ian Rankin) It must have been someone's idea of a joke. Too many offended egos back at headquarters, too many influential people unhappy with him in Nairobi. And yet, with his record, almost impossible to dismiss. So where had they sent Mollel? Straight to Hell. When Mollel, a former Maasai warrior turned detective, ends up in a small, fly-blown town on the edge of a national park, it looks as if his career has taken a nosedive. His colleagues are a close-knit group and they have not taken kindly to a stranger in their midst. Mollel suspects they are guilty of the extortion and bribery that plague the force, but when the body of a flower worker turns up in the local lake, he wonders if they might be involved in something more disturbing.      For all is not as it seems in Hell's Gate. Amid rumors of a local death squad, disappearances, and blackmail, Mollel is forced not only to confront his Maasai heritage but also to ask himself where justice truly lies. In upholding the law, is he doing what is right?

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4.2/5

The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free by Alex Perry

A vivid, powerful and controversial look at how the world gets Africa wrong, and how a resurgent Africa is forcing it to think again. Africa has long been misunderstood--and abused--by outsiders. Correspondent Alex Perry traveled the continent for most of a decade, meeting with entrepreneurs and warlords, professors and cocaine smugglers, presidents and jihadis. Beginning w A vivid, powerful and controversial look at how the world gets Africa wrong, and how a resurgent Africa is forcing it to think again. Africa has long been misunderstood--and abused--by outsiders. Correspondent Alex Perry traveled the continent for most of a decade, meeting with entrepreneurs and warlords, professors and cocaine smugglers, presidents and jihadis. Beginning with a devastating investigation into a largely unreported war crime-in 2011, when the US and the major aid agencies helped cause a famine in which 250,000 Somalis died-he finds Africa at a moment of furious self-assertion. To finally win their freedom, Africans must confront three last false prophets-Islamists, dictators and aid workers-who would keep them in their bonds. Beautifully written, intimately reported, and sure to spark debate, THE RIFT passionately argues that a changing Africa revolutionizes our ideas of it, and of ourselves.

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4.2/5

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

Esther is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities, who is struggling to survive, to escape, and to find a way to live with what she has seen and done. Jane is an American journalist who has traveled to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther and to find her center after a series of fai Esther is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities, who is struggling to survive, to escape, and to find a way to live with what she has seen and done. Jane is an American journalist who has traveled to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther and to find her center after a series of failed relationships. In unflinching prose, Minot interweaves their stories, giving us razor-sharp portraits of two extraordinary young women confronting displacement, heartbreak, and the struggle to wrest meaning from events that test them both in unimaginable ways.   With mesmerizing emotional intensity and stunning evocations of Africa's beauty and its horror, Minot gives us her most brilliant and ambitious novel yet.

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4.3/5

The Other Language by Francesca Marciano

Hailed by The New York Times as “a natural-born storyteller,” the acclaimed author of Rules of the Wild gives us nine incandescently smart stories, funny, elegant, and poignant by turns, that explore the power of change—in relationships, in geographies, and across cultures—to reveal unexpected aspects of ourselves.   Taking us to Venice during film festival season, where a w Hailed by The New York Times as “a natural-born storyteller,” the acclaimed author of Rules of the Wild gives us nine incandescently smart stories, funny, elegant, and poignant by turns, that explore the power of change—in relationships, in geographies, and across cultures—to reveal unexpected aspects of ourselves.   Taking us to Venice during film festival season, where a woman buys a Chanel dress she can barely afford; to a sun-drenched Greek village at the height of the summer holidays, where a teenager encounters the shocks of first love; and to a classical dance community in southern India, where a couple gives in to the urge to wander, these remarkable tales bring to life characters stepping outside their boundaries into new passions and destinies. Enlivened by Francesca Marciano’s wit, clear eye, and stunning evocations of people and places, The Other Language is an enthralling tour de force rich with many pleasures.

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4.2/5

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl Markham is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl Markham is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

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4.3/5

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen , Karen Blixen

Out of Africa is Isak Dinesen's memoir of her years in Africa, from 1914 to 1931, on a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in the hills near Nairobi. She had come to Kenya from Denmark with her husband, and when they separated she stayed on to manage the farm by herself, visited frequently by her lover, the big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton, for whom she would make up st Out of Africa is Isak Dinesen's memoir of her years in Africa, from 1914 to 1931, on a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in the hills near Nairobi. She had come to Kenya from Denmark with her husband, and when they separated she stayed on to manage the farm by herself, visited frequently by her lover, the big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton, for whom she would make up stories "like Scheherazade." In Africa, "I learned how to tell tales," she recalled many years later. "The natives have an ear still. I told stories constantly to them, all kinds." Her account of her African adventures, written after she had lost her beloved farm and returned to Denmark, is that of a master storyteller, a woman whom John Updike called "one of the most picturesque and flamboyant literary personalities of the century."

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3.9/5

A Grain of Wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

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 narrati 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.

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4.2/5

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice. Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice. Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation. Here is a spellbinding novel about a brother and sister who have lost their way; about how myths come to pass, history is written, and war stains us forever.

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4.8/5

West with the Night by Beryl Markham

West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.

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4.9/5

Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai

Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya. Born in a rural village in 1940, Wangari Maathai was already an iconoclast as a child, determined to get an Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya. Born in a rural village in 1940, Wangari Maathai was already an iconoclast as a child, determined to get an education even though most girls were uneducated. We see her studying with Catholic missionaries, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the United States, and becoming the first woman both to earn a PhD in East and Central Africa and to head a university department in Kenya. We witness her numerous run-ins with the brutal Moi government. She makes clear the political and personal reasons that compelled her, in 1977, to establish the Green Belt Movement, which spread from Kenya across Africa and which helps restore indigenous forests while assisting rural women by paying them to plant trees in their villages. We see how Maathai’s extraordinary courage and determination helped transform Kenya’s government into the democracy in which she now serves as assistant minister for the environment and as a member of Parliament. And we are with her as she accepts the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in recognition of her “contribution to sustainable development, human rights, and peace.” In Unbowed, Wangari Maathai offers an inspiring message of hope and prosperity through self-sufficiency.

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4.4/5

One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina

*A New York Times Notable Book* *A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice* *A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year* Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother's beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mech *A New York Times Notable Book* *A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice* *A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year* Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother's beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson—all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother's religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliché, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.

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4.7/5

Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic--a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature. In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attenti From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic--a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature. In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise. His aim in Wizard of the Crow is, in his own words,nothing less than “to sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history.” Commencing in “our times” and set in the “Free Republic of Aburĩria,” the novel dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburĩrian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry; and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity. Informed by richly enigmatic traditional African storytelling, Wizard of the Crow is a masterpiece, the crowning achievement in Ngugl wa Thiong’o’s career thus far.

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4/5

The River Between by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Christian missionaries attempt to outlaw the female circumcision ritual and in the process create a terrible rift between the two Kikuyu communities on either side of the river.

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3.8/5

Petals of Blood by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o , Moses Isegawa (Introduction)

The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a dev The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a devastating picture emerges of a modern third-world nation whose frustrated people feel their leaders have failed them time after time. First published in 1977, this novel was so explosive that its author was imprisoned without charges by the Kenyan government. His incarceration was so shocking that newspapers around the world called attention to the case, and protests were raised by human-rights groups, scholars, and writers, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Harold Pinter, and Margaret Drabble.First time in Penguin Classics

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5/5

The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood by Elspeth Huxley

In an open cart Elspeth Huxley set off with her parents to travel to Thika in Kenya. As pioneering settlers, they built a house of grass, ate off a damask cloth spread over packing cases, and discovered—the hard way—the world of the African. With an extraordinary gift for detail and a keen sense of humor, Huxley recalls her childhood on the small farm at a time when Europe In an open cart Elspeth Huxley set off with her parents to travel to Thika in Kenya. As pioneering settlers, they built a house of grass, ate off a damask cloth spread over packing cases, and discovered—the hard way—the world of the African. With an extraordinary gift for detail and a keen sense of humor, Huxley recalls her childhood on the small farm at a time when Europeans waged their fortunes on a land that was as harsh as it was beautiful. For a young girl, it was a time of adventure and freedom, and Huxley paints an unforgettable portrait of growing up among the Masai and Kikuyu people, discovering both the beauty and the terrors of the jungle, and enduring the rugged realities of the pioneer life.

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4.2/5

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M.G. Vassanji

Vikram Lall comes of age in 1950s Kenya, at the same time that the colony is struggling towards independence. Against the unsettling backdrop of Mau Mau violence, Vic and his sister Deepa, the grandchildren of an Indian railroad worker, search for their place in a world sharply divided between Kenyans and the British. We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to Vikram Lall comes of age in 1950s Kenya, at the same time that the colony is struggling towards independence. Against the unsettling backdrop of Mau Mau violence, Vic and his sister Deepa, the grandchildren of an Indian railroad worker, search for their place in a world sharply divided between Kenyans and the British. We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to the hope of the sixties, and through the corruption and fear of the seventies and eighties. Hauntingly told in the voice of the now exiled Vic, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is an acute and bittersweet novel of identity and family, of lost love and abiding friendship, and of the insidious legacy of the British Empire.

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4.4/5

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Nine years before the Senate campaign that made him one of the most influential and compelling voices in American politics, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shap Nine years before the Senate campaign that made him one of the most influential and compelling voices in American politics, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego. Obama opens his story in New York, where he hears that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has died in a car accident. The news triggers a chain of memories as Barack retraces his family’s unusual history: the migration of his mother’s family from small-town Kansas to the Hawaiian islands; the love that develops between his mother and a promising young Kenyan student, a love nurtured by youthful innocence and the integrationist spirit of the early sixties; his father’s departure from Hawaii when Barack was two, as the realities of race and power reassert themselves; and Barack’s own awakening to the fears and doubts that exist not just between the larger black and white worlds but within himself. Propelled by a desire to understand both the forces that shaped him and his father’s legacy, Barack moves to Chicago to work as a community organizer. There, against the backdrop of tumultuous political and racial conflict, he works to turn back the mounting despair of the inner city. His story becomes one with those of the people he works with as he learns about the value of community, the necessity of healing old wounds, and the possibility of faith in the midst of adversity. Barack’s journey comes full circle in Kenya, where he finally meets the African side of his family and confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life. Traveling through a country racked by brutal poverty and tribal conflict, but whose people are sustained by a spirit of endurance and hope, Barack discovers that he is inescapably bound to brothers and sisters living an ocean away—and that by embracing their common struggles he can finally reconcile his divided inheritance. A searching meditation on the meaning of identity in America, Dreams from My Father might be the most revealing portrait we have of a major American leader—a man who is playing, and will play, an increasingly prominent role in healing a fractious and fragmented nation.

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3.6/5

Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

By the world-renowned novelist, playwright, critic, and author of Wizard of the Crow, an evocative and affecting memoir of childhood.   Ngugi wa Thiong’o was born in 1938 in rural Kenya to a father whose four wives bore him more than a score of children. The man who would become one of Africa’s leading writers was the fifth child of the third wife. Even as World War II affec By the world-renowned novelist, playwright, critic, and author of Wizard of the Crow, an evocative and affecting memoir of childhood.   Ngugi wa Thiong’o was born in 1938 in rural Kenya to a father whose four wives bore him more than a score of children. The man who would become one of Africa’s leading writers was the fifth child of the third wife. Even as World War II affected the lives of Africans under British colonial rule in particularly unexpected ways, Ngugi spent his childhood as very much the apple of his mother’s eye before attending school to slake what was then considered a bizarre thirst for learning.   In Dreams in a Time of War, Ngugi deftly etches a bygone era, capturing the landscape, the people, and their culture; the social and political vicissitudes of life under colonialism and war; and the troubled relationship between an emerging Christianized middle class and the rural poor. And he shows how the Mau Mau armed struggle for Kenya’s independence against the British informed not only his own life but also the lives of those closest to him.   Dreams in a Time of War speaks to the human right to dream even in the worst of times. It abounds in delicate and powerful subtleties and complexities that are movingly told.

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3.8/5

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins

Britain fought in the Second World War to save the world from fascism. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler came the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya - a mass armed rebellion by the Kikuyu people, demanding the return of their land and freedom. The draconian response of Britain's colonial government was to detain nearly the entire Kikuyu population of one-and-a half-mi Britain fought in the Second World War to save the world from fascism. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler came the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya - a mass armed rebellion by the Kikuyu people, demanding the return of their land and freedom. The draconian response of Britain's colonial government was to detain nearly the entire Kikuyu population of one-and-a half-million - to hold them in camps or confine them in villages ringed with barbed wire - and to portray them as sub-human savages. From 1952 until the end of the war in 1960 tens of thousands of detainees - and possibly a hundred thousand or more - died from the combined effects of exhaustion, disease, starvation and systemic physical brutality. Until now these events have remained untold, largely because the British government in Kenya destroyed most of its files. For the last eight years Caroline Elkins has conducted exhaustive research to piece together the story, unearthing reams of documents and interviewing several hundred Kikuyu survivors. Britain's Gulag reveals what happened inside Kenya's detention camps, as well as the efforts to conceal the truth. Now, for the first time, we can understand the full savagery of the Mau Mau war and the ruthless determination with which Britain sought to control its empire.

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