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One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir Hardcover – July 19, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975913
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Glimmering, strobe-lit language . . . a complex, cosmopolitan African experience too rarely depicted in books.” —Teju Cole, GQ’s Book of the Year Club

“Harried reader, I’ll save you precious time: skip this review and head directly to the bookstore for Binyavanga Wainaina’s standup-and-cheer coming-of-age memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place. Although written by an East African and set in East and Southern Africa, Wainaina’s book is not just for Afrophiles or lovers of postcolonial literature. This is a book for anyone who still finds the nourishment of a well-written tale preferable to the emptycalorie jolt of a celebrity confessional or Swedish mystery.” —Alexandra Fuller, The New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of Kwani?, a leading African literary magazine based in Kenya. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, and has written for Vanity Fair, Virginia Quarterly, Granta, and The New York Times. Wainaina directs the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.

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Customer Reviews

I've looked forward to this book for a long time.
Naijaman
One of the most striking things about this book is that it does not follow the `formulaic' way to write a memoir.
Josephine K
It is an interesting memoir and gives a good insight to interesting times in East Africa and South Africa.
Acebo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Georgia on July 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been reading African Literature since the 60's. No book has impressed me as much as this one for its insight into issues that are really happening in East and South Africa. And the use of language by Binj excites me. He is a breath of fresh air when it comes to his description of things personal and in general as well. Read this book, relish the view of Africa that is not at all affected by the Colonial Powers, that is instead a reading from the ground. It is original and it is just fun to read. The descriptions of his growing up in Nakuru, Kenya are priceless. His time getting an "real" education, not university driven. in South Africa shows the power of street smarts. This man is demonstrating the range of his very creative intellect through his experiences. He is a writer to watch in this ignored field of African Literature, just like his friend Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. You want insight into Africa, read both of these authors and see where the new generation of African writers is taking us. Those of you who love the memoirs of Wole Soyinka will be thrilled by Binj and Chimamanda.

Africa is such a deep place if you want to learn more about this incredible landscape you must read Soyinka, Ngugi, Senghor, Achebe, Gordimer, Coetzee, Mphahlele, Ngozi and Wainaina. Now you will have scratched the surface of this place that so many of us would like to spend our days learning more. Good luck discovering a view of Africa unaffected by Europe or America.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Naijaman on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've looked forward to this book for a long time. Having read Binyavanga's writing and having heard him speak,I eagerly waited to see what a "full" book from him would look like. I haven't been disappointed.

Binyavanga writes a heartfelt account of a middle class, book-loving Kenyan boy's growing up, from the 70s through to the 90s, a riotous period. In beautiful poignant language that evoked for me memories of my own childhood in West Africa,he explores issues of class, religion, politics, family and community, subtly and in an engaging manner.

His travels take him to South Africa and Uganda, broadening our view; his chronicles enriched by his perceptive eye;

I had worried that I would find this book too highbrow, but it is written in a deceptively simple language whose beauty had me catching my breath more than once, such as when he writes of "Congo music with wayward voices, thick as hot honey..."

6 years ago, Wainaina published the sharp satirical Granta piece, "How to Write About Africa" In his book, he presents a picture of an African boy growing up in its rich and varied complexity.

Any criticisms? Sometimes he goes off on an almost other-worldly riff but even then, his writing is so evocative that I couldn't hold it against him

Wainaina has kept his promise
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Josephine K on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stung by the raw violence that clears wide swathes of the population every election season, Kenyans are waiting with bated breath for the next Kenyan General Election in 2012. Writers came together in the past to become the institutional memory of our tattered electoral process, and one of these Kenyan writer/editors, Binyavanga Wainaina has stepped in front of the drawn lines to tell his side of the story.

In his book currently flying off the shelves and e-readers we meet, a Kenyan writer understanding Kenyanness. Selling swiftly as one of Oprah's 2011 Summer Reads and ranked 9th most popular memoir on Amazon at this posting, this book is billed as a telling of the stories of `tribal unrest and Western influences on his homeland'. More than that, however, the story he tells, sometimes in rapid-fire fits and starts, becomes a loud voice portraying what many do know about him - writer, traveler and thinker; and what we do not really know very much about - son, student and comrade in culinary exploits and more.

Opening this book, I found out many of the things that I know to be Kenyan were tattooed on its pages. The searing hatred by tribal lines that erupts every other year, the delicate fabric of polite society in Kenya that he translates as the society that says "Who runs things. Who can. Who Can't, and Why not". Many times I could feel the tension running through, indicated in the consistent question Wainaina receives about what is his tribe, really, and why he has such a seemingly strange first name. And before that is answered, it also names the things that we value the most, land, and success - sadly two of the most elusive things for any Kenyan especially today.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Georgia "Peach" on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My favorite authors put words together in a magical way that makes me do a double take - go back and smile at descriptions. (Why couldn't I think of that?) Barbara Kingsolver is one. Binyavanga is another. How many times I returned to enjoy a description over and over while reading One Day I will Write About This Place. What Binj has done with this book is to allow us to enter the common world of a young African man trying to sort out what it all means while maintaining a rhythm that I feel is systemic on the continent. (He will take me to task for such a gross generalization I am confident, still the rhythm of the continent prevails as an undercurrent as we read about Binj's journey, providing a sense of place that is phenomenal and important.)

The fact that I have read several chapters of this memoir before was not a problem for me - placing those stories in a larger context added a new depth. I think this is an important work. I agree with Ngugi wa Thiong'o, that you "feel the drama and vibrations of life" in Kenya. This book is a treasure.
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