Untitled design 14 The 7 Best Kenyan Writers and Their Books

A list of some of the Best Kenyan writers whose work might impress you. The best Kenyan books to read to discover Kenyan literature.

There’s no doubt that Kenyan writers have played a crucial role not only in Kenyan literature but in African and international literature. With their talent and creative work, they have improved the reading culture in Kenya.

This has inspired other new authors to come up with great masterpieces. Some have written about politics, colonialism, and other social issues affecting society among other issues.

Below is a list of some well-known Kenyan writers whose work might impress you. The best Kenyan books to read.

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by Grace Ogot

Grace Ogot was the first female writer in Kenya to publish her work in English. Since then, her work has continued to get popular in Kenya. Ogot was born in Central Nyanza, Kenya, in 1930. 

She started with short stories in 1960 and published “The Promised land” six years later. Other popular writings from Ogot are “Land Without Thunder” in 1968, “The Other Woman” in 1976, “The Island of Tears” in 1980.

Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature

by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Nobel Prize-nominated Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a writer whose work has not only been read in Africa but globally too.

His first work was inspired by the colonialism and violence of the Mau Mau war that happened during his childhood. Ngugi wrote his first book called “Weep Not Child.” 

At that time, he had started his studies in Uganda then later moved to the UK. In his first novel, he documents how Mau Mau war-affected Kenyan citizens. He also tried to speak against the colonial oppression that Kenyans were going through during that time. 

In his second book, “A Grain of Wheat”, he speaks about how Kenyans struggled to get independence. He has written a collection of other exciting books translated into Kenyan Languages like Swahili and Gikuyu.

The Cockroach Dance

by Meja Mwangi

Just like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Meja Mwangi is also an author who writes more about colonialism. His works are more about the social conditions and history of his native Kenya. He depicts the resistance movement in Kikuyu highlands against the British. 

This is evident from his two books called “Carcase for Hounds” and “Taste of Death,” which he wrote in the 1970s.

He also talks about the difficulty in sustaining livelihood and poverty in his two books, “Going Down River Road”, “Kill Me Quick”, and “The Cockroach Dance”. 

Coming to Birth

Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye

Even though Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye was born in England in 1928, she traveled to Kenya in 1954, and it became her residence until her death. She developed writing as a career and turned out to be one of the most celebrated authors. 

Some of her books like ‘Coming to Birth” have been used as set books in Kenyan learning institutions. Besides writing novels, she has also contributed to poetry and short stories.

The novel “Coming to Birth” made her award the Sinclair Prize when she released it in 1986. Marjorie has published other works like “Street Life”, Murder in Majengo”, “A Farm called Kishinev”, “The Present Moment” and “The Song of Nyarloka and other Poems”. 

Unbowed: A Memoir

by Wangari Mathai

Wangari Mathai dealt with environmental conservation and she was the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize.

Mathai was a political activist who got her education in the United States. She was the Founder of the Green Belt Movement, a great non-governmental organization that worked on planting seeds.

Besides her love for the environment, Mathai also loved writing.

Some of the books that Mathai has written include; “Unbowed”, her authobiography, from her childhood in rural Kenya to be the founder of the Green Belt Movement, “Replenishing the Earth“, “The Challenge for Africa”, and “the Green Belt”, among others.

Halfway between Nairobi and Dundori

by Muthoni Garland

Muthoni is yet another Kenyan author among those shortlisted in 2006 for the “Caine prize.”

Garland is also among the founders of Storymoja publishing house based in Nairobi. Her most famous work is “Halfway Between Nairobi and Dundori”.

This is a story of a marriage full of mishaps. She also wrote, “Tracking the Scent of My Mother”.

Welcome to Lagos

by Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainana is a great author who also writes unique work where he satirizes Western people’s perceived Africa. He wrote a memoir of his youth called “One day I will Write about this Place”.

Another satirical work that gave Wainaina great fame is his work “How to Write About Africa”. Kenyans loved reading his work since it left them wondering whom to target as a satirical figure next.

There are so many Kenyan authors who have written about very many exciting things. Some have written fiction work while others it’s more of non-fiction.

However, the above writers remain popular because they have been in this field for a while. They have also written about what affects society most.

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