In the House of the Interpreter by Ngugi wa'Thiong'o
A Memoir

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Synopsis

With black-and-white illustrations throughout

World-renowned Kenyan novelist, poet, playwright, and literary critic Ng˜ug˜ý wa Thiong’o gives us the second volume of his memoirs in the wake of his critically acclaimed Dreams in a Time of War.
 
In the House of the Interpreter richly and poignantly evokes the author’s life and times at boarding school—the first secondary educational institution in British-ruled Kenya—in the 1950s, against the backdrop of the tumultuous Mau Mau Uprising for independence and Kenyan sovereignty. While Ng˜ug˜ý has been enjoying scouting trips, chess tournaments, and reading about the fictional RAF pilot adventurer Biggles at the prestigious Alliance High School near Nairobi, things have been changing rapidly at home. Poised as he is between two worlds, Ng˜ug˜ý returns home for his first visit since starting school to find his house razed and the entire village moved up the road, closer to a guard checkpoint. Later, his brother Good Wallace, a member of the insurgency, is captured by the British and taken to a concentration camp. As for Ng˜ug˜ý himself, he falls victim to the forces of colonialism in the person of a police officer encountered on a bus journey, and he is thrown into jail for six days. In his second year at Alliance High School, the boarding school that was his haven in a heartless world is shattered by investigations, charges of disloyalty, and the politics of civil unrest.
 
In the House of the Interpreter hauntingly describes the formative experiences of a young man who would become a world-class writer and, as a political dissident, a moral compass to us all. It is a winning celebration of the implacable determination of youth and the power of hope.
 

About Ngugi wa'Thiong'o

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has taught at Nairobi University, Northwestern University, Amherst College, Yale University, and New York University. He is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. His many books include Wizard of the Crow, Dreams in a Time of War, Devil on the Cross, Decolonising the Mind, and Petals of Blood, for which he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in 1977.
 
Published November 6, 2012 by Anchor. 258 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the House of the Interpreter

Kirkus Reviews

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Wa Thiong’o highlights his family and friends, but also the dominant presence of the school principal, Edward Carey Francis, who appears as a strong, principled but enormously complex character whom the author both feared and revered.

Aug 29 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Publishers Weekly

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Acclaimed Kenyan novelist, poet, playwright, and critic wa Thiong’o recalls the seminal moments of his high school years from 1955 to 1959 during the bloody Mau Mau rebellion against a rigid British colonial regime.

Sep 10 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

The Boston Globe

In a follow-up to his previous memoir, “Dreams in a Time of War,” acclaimed Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o continues the story of his childhood, focusing specifically on his time at the boarding school that shaped his intellectual and spiritual lives.

Jan 18 2013 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Boston.com

The author picks up the story in 1955, the year in which he entered Alliance High School, headed by principal Edward Carey Francis, a figure who looms large in wa Thiong’o’s narrative, and who viewed the school as a “grand opportunity to morally and intellectually mold a future leadership that co...

Jan 18 2013 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Scotsman.com

The two titans of contemporary African literature – Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o – have lately turned to memoir.

Nov 24 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Bookmarks Magazine

In his second year at Alliance High School, the boarding school that was his haven in a heartless world is shattered by investigations, charges of disloyalty, and the politics of civil unrest.

In the House of the Interpreter hauntingly describes the formative experiences of a young...

Dec 18 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Arts Fuse

Instead of exploring his inner life at the time or his adult understanding of the institution that shelters him, Ngũgi wa Thiong’o draws a dispassionate and largely predictable report of boarding school life.

Oct 31 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Think Africa Press

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s new memoir charts his life as a young man facing, and personally resolving, the contradictions he finds in being part of a colonial African elite.

Nov 29 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

Ebony

The first two installments of his story, Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir and his recent release, In The House of the Interpreter: A Memoir are chronicles about a life spent hearing and, ultimately, using stories—literally, true tales of a child at play, attempting to absorb myth, hea...

Nov 26 2012 | Read Full Review of In the House of the Interpret...

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