Beginnings: Wizard of the Crow

I am about to start reading Wizard of the Crow. It was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.  The book is rather daunting; it’s printed in small font and is 766 pages long. It is written by the Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who is widely known for his earlier works like The River Between (1965) and A Grain of Wheat (1967).  The book’s cover is marvelous.

Here is the description from the publisher :

Wizard of the Crow is a bitingly satirical novel about African politics, power and paranoia. It is set in the Free Republic of Aburiria where freedom is rare but spectacle is not. One year, ‘the Ruler’, a longstanding despot, announces plans to build the highest tower in the world. His sycophants applaud while the people, led by an unemployed academic-turned-wizard, protest… Epic and ambitious, Wizard of the Crow is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s first novel in 20 years. It aims, in his words, “to sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history.”

The Quarterly Conversation says:

Wizard satisfies as a book that is fun to read, a ripping story that never flags… Thiong’o writes as though he expects to be faced with his audience. In some authors that would be a bad thing; their books would be filled with cheap thrills and bogus developments to keep an audience compliant. Thiong’o instead has taken this commandment to entertain and turned it into the engine of a novel that is every bit as intelligent as it is fun.

Finally, Ready When You Are, C.B. says “I loved this book, but I’ve no idea where to begin or what to say about it…If you can play along with the satire and the humor, I think you’ll enjoy Wizard of the Crow.”

I think that I might enjoy the satire.  I’ve also decided to make a conscious effort to read  more speculative African fiction. In all, I have high expectations of this book. Here is hoping that those are met. I will provide an update or two as I progress through this chunkster.

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15 comments

  1. I am not good with satire but i love magical realism for the most part so I’m really interested in the book. I’m glad you are enjoying it and hope I’ll get to it too someday.

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  2. The size of the book and the number of pages tells the extensive research that must have gone in in writing the novel. No wonder it is Ngugi’s first novel in 20 years. Looking forward to your review, Kinna.

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  3. I am really looking forward to find out what you think. I have read some other Common Wealth Writer’s Prize winners and was sort of put off. If this one turns out well for you, maybe I will give it a go!!

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    • I’ve had some luck with Commonwealth Writers’ Prize especially the First Book prizes for the Africa region. I do hope it turns out well. I’ve started and i’m enjoying the beginning. Stay tuned for my progress reports and/or reviews. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

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  4. Ooohh you make it sound so good. I’m still scared of it’s size though, so it will remain on the tbr for now! BUT I also have A Grain of Wheat on my tbr, so maybe I will start with it 🙂

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  5. seems like a magnus opus by one of africas great writers and must have been in pipeline for ages 20 years is a long time between novels ,look forward to your review ,all the best stu

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