One Day I Will Write About This Place

Binyavanga Wainaina

Published: 2 August 2012
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781847083326


Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him.This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colourful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother's beauty parlour, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson - all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own.

In this vivid and compelling debut, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his failed attempt to study in South Africa, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya.The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliche, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.

About the author

Image of Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the founding editor of Kwani?, a leading African literary magazine. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African writing, and has written for Vanity Fair, Granta and the New York Times. Wainaina directs the Chinua Achebe Centre for African Writers and Artists at Bard College, NY. More about the author


‘A beguiling account of coming of age in post-colonial Africa ... This is Africa from the African point of view, a vibrant celebration of "normal human beings doing normal things"’



‘A memoir that immerses the reader in the feel of contemporary African life ... a sharply observed picaresque tale that delivers on the promise of his earlier writing’

‘A startling shape-shifting memoir’ Claire Allfree

‘A strange, allusive, tender memoir about growing up in middle-class Kenya’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Brilliant... Wainaina's beautifully elastic sentences fizz and crackle, pounce on their meanings, stretch and snap back into place ... An outstanding book, bursting with life and full of love’ Teju Cole

‘Harried reader, I'll save you precious time: skip this review and head directly to the bookstore for Binyavanga Wainaina's stand-up-and-cheer coming-of-age memoir’

‘I love this book. An insight into a world I've never seen before. Binyavanga Wainana opens the doors and beckons us into the portrait of an artist as a young Kenyan. An examination of language, loss and return. Great stuff.’ Colum McCann

‘Wainaina's beguiling account of growing up in post-colonial 1970s Kenya is an extended endeavour to understand and explain his culture ... a vibrant celebration’ Ian Critchley

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