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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Matigari (1987) by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o


Book Review
Matigari (1987)
 by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

  Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o famously abandoned writing in English in favor of developing a literature in his native language, Gikuyu.  Writing a foreword while in exile from Kenya, Thiong'o wryly notes that the Gikuyu language version was banned inside Kenya for years, but that the English translation could still be purchased while the Gikuyu language version was samizdat.

  Matigari is a creation myth, the eponymous hero an allegory of the people who fought for independence but were betrayed by post-independence elites.  Matigari, despite it's allegorical form, is a direct attack on the corruption of the post-independence Kenyan elite.  They are a group that are often singled out for criticism in Thiong'o's fiction.   Thiong'o's style is like the obverse of magical realism, non-magical fantasy.  The symbolic children of Matigari earn a living picking out garbage from the dump. 

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