- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Anchor (March 8 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846553776
- ISBN-13: 978-1846553776
- ASIN: 0307476219
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #543,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir Paperback – Mar 8 2011
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“A testament to the resilience of youth and the strength of hope. . . . Vividly evokes the colonial era as experienced by Africans, and the resulting clash of cultures that produced one of the most significant African writers of our time. . . . Ngũgĩ’s greatest literary achievement in this book is to re-create, with almost uncanny success, how the world looked through mid-century African eyes.”
—The Boston Globe
“Eye-opening. . . . The work Ngũgĩ offers us here is like nothing that’s gone before. . . . There is a startling similarity between [Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father] and . . . Ngũgĩ’s eye-opening memoir. . . . It is admirably free of cant or sentimentality, and yet it is enough to make you weep.”
—The Washington Post
“Startling, vivid. . . . Inspiring. . . . Whether recalling joyful or challenging times, Ngũgĩ displays a plainspoken yet beautiful prose style. . . . Ngũgĩ’s inspiring story is a testament to his extraordinary resilience and stubborn refusal to surrender his dreams.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Absorbing. . . . Infused with a child’s curiosity and wonder, this book is deeply touching in its revelation of a whole community’s stake in nurturing a writer.”
—The Guardian (London)
“Gives its readers an unforgettable sense of another time, a country and a continent in the middle of change. A small child learns to hold onto his dreams, even in a time of war.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Luminously evokes Kenya on the cusp of independence. . . . [This] memoir is suffused with affecting evocations of time and place, as well as a touching reminder that dreams can come true.”
—Richmond Times Dispatch
“Ngũgĩ has been a key figure in Kenya’s modern history, both as a writer and as a model for political engagement, and his three-volume memoir will serve as an important record of the country and the life.”
“Crisp, clearly told. . . . A fascinating look at twentieth-century African history, but also a moving intellectual odyssey in which Ngũgĩ learns to revere both modernity and tradition but to reserve a healthy skepticism of both.”
“Ngũgĩ has returned to his roots to produce something delicate, fresh and scrupulously honest.”
“Richly drawn. . . . A coming-of-age tale, gripping, endearing, shocking and funny by turns. . . . The surprise about Dreams in a Time of War is that, for all the provocation of history, and for all its clear-eyed evocation of an agonised time, it is not an angry book. . . . Ngũgĩ’s storyteller’s instinct for character and place, for recurring motifs and telling symbols, triumphs over the bleakness of background.”
About the Author
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Wizard of the Crow, Petals of Blood, Devil on the Cross, and Decolonising the Mind.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Ngugi describes what life was like for him growing up in Kenya in a polygamous family. His father had four wives and many children. Ngugi's mother was the third wife and Ngugi lived in her hut with his full siblings. The wives formed close relationships with each other as did the children. Early in life, Ngugi made a solemn promise to his mother to attend school and to his best possible if she would make the sacrifices necessary for him to go to school.
This book really presents what life was like for Ngugi through the innocence of a child's eyes. We learn about who his friends were and what he did for fun. We also discover his heartbreak and travails when his father divorced his mother and she returned to live with her father. We begin to see the unfairness of the colonial rule when Ngugi's brother returns to Kenya after fighting in Burma in World War II and these former soldiers are not given equal treatment or justly credited or rewarded for their assistance.
Dreams in a Time of War describes the beginnings of what is commonly termed the Mau Mau Rebellion through a child's eyes and the confusion of having members of his family on different sides during the rebellion.
This was an enlightening read for me and I appreciated being able to see this through the innocence of a child.
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir, tells the story of Thiong'o's early life, through the mid-1950s when he was admitted to high school. As with several of Thiong'o's novels, this story also takes place against the backdrop of Mau Mau. It's a fascinating account, and it balances the personal with the political. On the personal side, Thiong'o tells of growing up in a polygamous household and of his mother's efforts to get him to school. His mother and father split when he was a child, and he becomes the scribe to his maternal grandfather. He gives an account -- the first I've read -- of going through the circumcision ceremony, the rite of passage that makes him a man.
At the same time, he describes the political excitement and tension of the time. In the course of Mau Mau, his uncle goes to the mountains to fight, and Thiong'o himself is detained by colonial police on the way home from a religious meeting. The political and the personal intersect repeatedly.
With little access to newspapers - and those filtered by colonial authorities - he and his friends rely on semi-informed and highly creative informants: "Ngandi, like some of his audience, has to read between the lines of the settler-owned newspapers and government radio. But he enriches what he gleans here and there with rich creative interpretation." Still, as Thiong'o underlines, "Perhaps it is myth as much as fact that keeps dreams alive in times of war."
This is a beautiful homage to a mother's commitment to education, as well as a view to growing up in a time of great political upheaval. I listened to the unabridged audiobook, narrated by Hakeen Kae-Kazim. I highly recommend the book, the audiobook, and Thiong'o's other work, especially Wizard of the Crow.
family where his mom, one of the five wives of his dad, is at some
point rejected by his dad. Ngugi loves reading and learning;
despite all the difficulties of the situation--poverty, war,
colonialism, and racism--he manages to go to school. Despite the
harsh conditions, the support that people can provide each others
with make the apparently impossible dreams happen. "That was my
first lesson in the virtue of resistance, that right and justice
can empower the weak."