Dreams in a Time of War (Random House – Harvill Secker)
In Dreams in a Time of War, Ngugi wa Thiong'o paints a mesmerising portrait of a young boy's experiences in an African nation in flux.
Beginning in the late 1930s, this moving and entertaining memoir describes Ngugi's day-to-day life as the fifth child of his father's third wife in a family that included twenty-four children born to four different mothers. Against the backdrop of World War II, which affected the lives of Africans under British colonial rule in unexpected ways, Ngugi spent his childhood as the apple of his mother's eye before attending school to slake what was then considered a bizarre thirst for learning.
As he grows up, the wider political and social changes occurring in Kenya at this time begin to impinge on the boy's life in both inspiring and frightening ways. Through telling the story of his grandparents and parents and of his brothers' involvement on different sides of the violent Mau Mau uprising, Ngugi wa Thiong'o takes us back to a momentous period in Kenyan history, deftly etching a bygone era, capturing the landscape, the people and their culture, and the social and political vicissitudes of life under colonialism and war.