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Devil on the Cross (Heinemann African Writers Series) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0435908447
ISBN-10: 0435908448
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of our century’s great novels.” —Tribune (UK)
 
“Ngugi is the most celebrated of African novelists.  What he offers is nothing less than a new direction for African writing.” —British Book News  
 
“Striking.” —The Guardian (London) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heinemann African Writers Series
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (October 23, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435908448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435908447
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 4.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Nordin on April 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
One evening in Nairobi in the mid 80's I spent an uncomfortable dinner party defending this book to a bunch of outraged white folks. Well, Ngugi had it a bit worse. For the crime of producing a play in Kikuyu and for having ordinary folk be in it, and, of course, for the play expressing some irritation at the idea that a few should have all the money, he was jailed and his play confiscated.

As a result of his imprisonment, perhaps, this is not a happy book. Using allegory and parable he constructs a fabulous tale critiquing the existing order. He lays into the wealthy, the white colonialists and anyone else getting well off or acquiescing in the current regime of theft and greed.

Some of the outrage people have at this book came from Nugui's imaginative retelling of Jesus' parables. "For the Kingdom of Earthly Wiles can be likened unto a ruler who foresaw that the day would come when we would be thrown out of a certain country by the masses and their guerrilla freedom fighters" begins a parable loosely based on The Parable of the Talents.

It looks like he's attacking Jesus -- if you think Jesus was just telling pious little "be good" stories. On the other hand, if you really listen to Jesus, you'll think Ngugi is right on target.

This is an African version of Liberation Theology.
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Format: Paperback
Ngugi has written a detailed and entertaining exploration of life in postcolonial Kenya, looking particularly at the effects global capitalism has upon the ideals of a socialist revolution. But the novel is also much more than that: it is the story of a woman who is unable to see her own beauty for the Western ideals forced upon her, a woman who straightens her hair and bleaches her skin to look more "attractive." It is the story of the devil's appearance to this woman on a golf course and her fervent desire to defeat him and the forces of global capitilism that are looting her country.
The novel is also Ngugi's attempt to translate the Gikuyu oral narrative into a written form. It is a surreal, funny, and ultimately disturbing read. If you enjoyed Achebe's THINGS FALL APART, then this is a sequel of sorts, an exploration of how the corruption continues after independence.
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Format: Paperback
One commentor noted that Ngugi's book is good but fails in establishing a reason to care to his audience.

The reason for this is because though Ngugi does establish empathy from his audience he does so briefly because he assumes it is understood. Ngugi, in other words, was not writing this book for the European descent population who would need an elaborate explanation as to why to care about the characters. For the commentor, who is likely of European descent, they did not feel the automatic empathy for the characters any person of African descent feels as they read through the first chapter.

It's hard for me to think of any book that so elaborately investigates the contemporary Pan-African dilemma due to European exploitation. Other great novels, such as "Home to Harlem", do not directly attack or identify the issues. This book, though fictional literature is more of a nod to the philosophical inquiries of "The Wretched of the Earth." Utterly brilliant.
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Format: Paperback
I really loved this book. I've read a few of Ngugi's books and this is my favorite: lyrical, sad, and yet optimistic and celebratory at the same time. It has a number of strengths. Its poetic verses and style were reminiscent of Kikuyu oral literature; despite this version being in English there was a great translator. I can't read Kikuyu but Ngugi writes in it and says it can convey some of the richness of the stories better than English can. I can't imagine it being better than it was though! It was a great story of true Kenyan heroes, a love story, a scathing condemnation of corruption, materialism, poverty, neo-colonialism and self-hatred in Kenya and all over the world, and a truly feminist story as well.

I loved how Ngugi praised women who sought untraditional careers like engineering,and the women who had been the national heros in expelling the British. African women's roles in ousting the colonial powers and the need for them to help develop young nations is often neglected but Ngugi gives special attention to African women and embraces their contributions, equality, and their natural beauty, while expressing deep sadness over how they mutilate themselves by bleaching their skin, among other things. I met Ngugi and he was such a warm and wonderful man. This is a beautiful story.
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By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
For those of whom detest translations, this book is a miracle. Written in Kenya's national language Gikuyu (?), the author also wrote the English version . . . and what a translation it is, too! Ngugi's prose easily surpasses the vast majority of authors alive today, and along with a gorgeously structured, captivating story . . . it actually took my breathe away.
Also, most American authors who consider themselves 'political,' strike me as simply preaching to the choir. Not so with Ngugi. You can actually feel some of the grief he bears for the direction his nation has taken, a nation he has an undeniable, unfailing, patriotic love for -and its the country that imprisoned him!
If you want the same old romance or adventure the same old way, read a tawdry or action-packed American bestseller. If you want an experience that will last after you're done reading, order this book.
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