Birth of a Dream Weaver

A Writer’s Awakening

From one of the world’s greatest writers, the story of how the author found his voice as a novelist at Makerere University in Uganda

“In his crowded career and his eventful life, Ngũgĩ has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial, and linguistic currents.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

Birth of a Dream Weaver charts the very beginnings of a writer’s creative output. In this wonderful memoir, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the four years he spent at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda—threshold years during which he found his voice as a journalist, short story writer, playwright, and novelist just as colonial empires were crumbling and new nations were being born—under the shadow of the rivalries, intrigues, and assassinations of the Cold War.

Haunted by the memories of the carnage and mass incarceration carried out by the British colonial-settler state in his native Kenya but inspired by the titanic struggle against it, Ngũgĩ, then known as James Ngugi, begins to weave stories from the fibers of memory, history, and a shockingly vibrant and turbulent present.

What unfolds in this moving and thought-provoking memoir is simultaneously the birth of one of the most important living writers—lauded for his “epic imagination” (Los Angeles Times)—the death of one of the most violent episodes in global history, and the emergence of new histories and nations with uncertain futures.

Praise

“A writer’s coming-of-age tale featuring an artistic mix of pride and humility.”
Kirkus Reviews
“An autobiographical masterpiece.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Every page ripples with a contagious faith in education and in the power of literature to shape the imagination and scour the conscience.”
The Washington Post

News and Reviews

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson have each garnered major accolades for their respective new books, 

The Washington Post

The Washington Post reviews Birth of a Dream Weaver, saying "every page ripples with a contagious faith in education and in the power of literature to shape the imagination and scour the conscience."

The Guardian

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie lists Birth of a Dream Weaver as one of the "Best Books of 2016," calling the memoir "exquisite in its honesty and truth and resilience, and a necessary chronicle from one of the greatest writers of our time."

Library Journal

Library Journal calls Birth of a Dream Weaver "[a]s essential as Achebe’s There Was a Country... a riveting read in African history and literature."

Pages

Books by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

A Prison Memoir

Ngugi wa Thiong'o