Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

University of California, Irvine
Writer (novelist, playwright); Literary critic; Educator
Humanities and Arts
Literature and Language Studies
Author of nine novels, eight plays, twelve volumes of literary criticism, and three memoirs inspired by a passionate, life-long commitment to language, not simply as means of communication, but as a way of being. His fiction focuses on the quiet courage of Kenyans in the face of rampant corruption and terror. While a political prisoner, he wrote his novel Devil on the Cross on toilet paper. Released in 1979, he went into exile. In 1986, when Kenyan authorities realized that a central character in his novel Matigari (for whom they had issued an arrest warrant) was fictional, they launched a book burning campaign. Advocate for human rights and African indigenous languages, addressed the United Nations General Assembly, twice. Honors include the Order of the Elder of Burning Spear by the Kenyan government, Foreign Honorary Memberof the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and subject of the documentary, Who's Afraid of Ngugi? (2004).
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