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. 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. 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.
One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina is a moving and inspirational memoir that gives readers a poignant glimpse of life from the 1970s and beyond in Kenya. In his literary debut, Wainaina writes about his childhood, his family, his own personal experiences as he explores Kenya, and his career aspirations. Drawing from parallels between various periods of turmoil in Africa and his own self-image, Wainaina gives readers a vivid portrayal of his life in Kenya, and although raw and mature-themed at times, these scenes are meant to capture his emotions and not downplay the intensity of the moment. In very descriptive prose, Wainaina brings the realities of his life and the lives of those around him into the hearts and minds of his readers. Seeking comfort and escape through reading, Wainaina had been assembling and organizing thoughts for this debut though much of his life and the outcome is an exceptionally well-written, heart-felt and honest portrayal of his life experiences. I strongly recommend One Day I Will Write About This Place to all adult readers as well as discussion groups.
Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of Kwani?, a leading African literary magazine based in Kenya. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, and has written for Vanity Fair, Virginia Quarterly Review, Granta, and the New York Times. Wainaina directs the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.
I received a complimentary arc of One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina from Greywolf Press. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.