In contemporary Nairobi, a young man named Moses Odidi Oganda bleeds to death in the streets, murdered by police. As his lifeblood—full of memories, colors, and songs—pours into the dust, the stories that tumble forth reveal the violent upheaval of Kenya’s own life, reaching from the Mau Mau uprisings of the 1950s to the murky intricacies of modern-day corruption.
Odidi’s grief-stricken family journeys home to Wuoth Ogik, their crumbling, coral-coloured house far out in the Kenyan drylands. Fifty years ago, Wuoth Ogik was built by a British colonial officer, whose name they no longer dare speak. The mystery of his disappearance is woven together with the secrets, desires, and shadows within their decaying desert house. In the parched landscape where the Ogandas live, stories are of paramount importance—and this is a story about stories, about how myths come to pass, history is written, and war stains us forever. With strength, empathy, and grace, Dust brings together the shards of a family’s and nation’s shared and hidden history, which gradually become clear, and are exorcised. Written in prose of arresting power, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s debut novel is a stunningly original work of art. December 12, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of Kenya’s independence.