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One Day I Will Write About This Place

A Memoir

Binyavanga Wainaina

Graywolf Press

One Day I Will Write About This Place Download image

ISBN10: 1555976247
ISBN13: 9781555976248


272 Pages


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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

In this vivid and compelling memoir, Binyavanga Wainaina tumbles through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. In One Day I Will Write About This Place, Wainaina brilliantly evokes family, tribe, and nationhood in joyous, ecstatic language.


Praise for One Day I Will Write About This Place

"From an early age, Wainaina's outlook on the world around him was characterized by his vivid imagination, from his vision of the sun's rays poking through the grass as 'a thousand tiny suns' to the 'hot nails of thick feeling' that suffuse his body during a hot bath. Throughout it all, he is keenly in tune with those who are outsiders, particularly his mother, a Ugandan who is the subject of xenophobic attacks from her neighbors."—The New Republic

"Harried reader, I'll save you precious time: skip this review and head directly to the bookstore for Binyavanga Wainaina's standup-and-cheer coming-of-age memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place. Although written by an East African and set in East and Southern Africa, Wainaina's book is not just for Afrophiles or lovers of postcolonial literature. This is a book for anyone who still finds the nourishment of a well-written tale preferable to the emptycalorie jolt of a celebrity confessional or Swedish mystery."—Alexandra Fuller, The New York Times Book Review

"If you are a Western reader it will remind you of two things: l) Nothing you have ever heard of before; and 2) Dylan Thomas when writing about his own childhood. The language is similarly startling and luminous . . . This book is important because it brings us news from a part of Kenya seldom heard from. And it brings us a new voice, one that is anthropomorphic, poetic and pointed."—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"This self-portrait of the artist as a young African man is the story of an outsider coming into his own, but it's Wainaina's capacity for language that sets it apart. Growing up in a place where people use many tongues—Kiswahili, English, Kikuyu and dozens of others—interchangeably serves him well in weaving together lyrical, impressionistic scenes from his past. More than just pretty prose, however, One Day I Will Write About This Place justice to the complex place that's much more than the sum of tidy facts unenlightened Westerners may know about it."—Time Out New York

"This is how to write about Africa—with love and a sharp eye, with intimacy and risk. with patience and such superlative skills."—Leila Aboulela

"Binyavanga Wainaina writes with an unparalleled grace, a language that burns with tenderness and a scorching melancholy and an honesty rarely encountered in a memoir. A long awaited and brilliant book."—Chris Abani, author of Graceland and The Virgin of Flames

" I love this book . . . Wainaina opens the doors and beckons us into the portrait of an artist as a young Kenyan . . . Great stuff."—Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin

"A narrative with its own galloping rhythm . . . Wainaina is driven by a need to absorb the experiences of those around him and then express them in his unique style, and he is at his best when he is face-to-face with his subject. The result is a rich and vivid depiction of the author's life and a joy to read."—New Pages

"[An] insightful, emotionally rich memoir . . . Wainaina provides the means for readers to experience Africa, in all its dimensions, with newly invigorated senses."—The Brooklyn Rail

"An utterly convincing and radically original portrait of a 21st century Africa."—

"Original. Poetic. Surprising. Experimental . . . Wainaina depicts an Africa where real people live—an Africa that will stay in your mind." —A Traveler's Library

"Wainaina's path to becoming a writer is wrapped up in his quest to realize his identity, to belong to his family yet create a life uniquely his own . . . One Day I Will Write About This Place is a hilarious, intelligent, and nuanced portrayal of what it means to be a Kenyan-Ugandan-Gikuyu-Mufumbira-son-brother-foreigner-citizen-artist in our world today."—Africa Is a Country

"One Day I Will Write About This Place is profound and insightful, a must for anyone who wants a personal insight about the state of Kenya and the African continent."—Midwest Book Review

"This memoir of Africa is lyrical, sometimes raw, always magical of language in its telling of the day-to-day life of a complex continent. I am savoring every word."—Hudson Valley News

"Wainaina paints pictures with words; his writing is reflective and playful and worth lingering over . . . The Africa evoked is captivating and will be exotic and new to many readers. Wainaina's memoir is by turns funny, sad, hopeful and occasionally cynical, but always engaging. Fanciful abstractions of his environment and instructive tales of African politics combine to give us a faschinating vision of his world."—Shelf Awareness

"Language is clearly the author's preferred mode of structuring the world, but it is also the plaything he uses with idiosyncratic grace and brilliant immediacy to capture 'the scattered, shifting sensations' of memories and emotions long past."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of Kwani?, a leading African literary magazine. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, and has written for Vanity Fair, Granta, and The New York Times. Wainaina directs the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.