Prolific US based Kenyan Writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o Recognised for Genre-Defying Novel


At 82, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o — a towering figure of contemporary African literature and theory — is as fiercely prolific as ever.

The Kenyan writer has now been nominated for The Nommo Awards for his latest body of work, The Perfect Nine.

The book written in local dialect Gikuyu is Ngugi’s first attempt at an epic, and tells the story of the founding of the Gikuyu people of Kenya, from a strong feminist perspective.

The nominations for Nommo Awards comes weeks after Ngugi was nominated for the International Booker Prize as both author and translator for The Perfect Nine in April.

The Nommo Awards are literary prizes presented to African authors who work in the genre of African Speculative Fiction.

Science fiction, fantasy, stories of magic and traditional belief, alternate histories, horror, and bizarre material that does not fit into any other genre are all included in this category.

Surprisingly, the prizes are named after an African god known as the 'Nommo.' Other authors nominated for the Nommo awards include; Nigeria’s Akwaeke Emezi, South Africa’s Lauren Beukes, and Zimbabwe’s Shanice Ndlovu.

The Nommo awards are divided into four long lists; the novel long, novella, short story and graphic novel.

For nearly six decades, Ngugi has been building a mountain of work that ranges from novels, plays and memoirs to groundbreaking essays on language and literary decolonization.

His new book, “The Perfect Nine,” is a recounting of the creation myth of the Gikuyu people of Kenya. It is a quest novel-in-verse that explores folklore, myth and allegory through a decidedly feminist and pan-African lens.

“The idea literally came to me as I sat on a raised ground overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I live in Irvine, 10 minutes away from the ocean, and I always find its blue vastness overwhelming," he said.