One Day I will Write About This Place
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 colourful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother’s beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson—all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. 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. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. 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.
Selections & Reviews
Binyavanga Wainaina (born 1971), is a travel writer, essayist, award winning fiction writer and journalist, and is also the Founding Editor of Kwani?, and one of Africa's most dynamic literary voices. He is presently the Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College in New York and as travel writer, has written for The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair (US), The Mail and Guardian (SA), The East African, among other publications. His landmark essay, How to Write about Africa has been translated into twenty languages and is studied in universities and schools around the world as a foundational text about the perception of Africa in the west. His new Book, One Day I Will Write about This Place is a memoir about his life in Kenya and was first released to great critical and commercial success acclaim in the United States & the UK in 2011.