A Grain of Wheat (Paperback)
This is a compelling account of the turbulence that inflamed Kenya in the 1950s and its impact on people's lives. Five friends and agemates make different choices when the Mau Mau rebellion erupts in colonial Kenya. Kihika joins the freedom fighters in the forest; Gikonyo supports the rebels, but is arrested and detained; Mumbi, Gikonyo's wife, works to keep family and home together in the village; Karanja chooses to support the more powerful British masters; Mugo ultimately betrays his friends and loses his life in a desperate attempt to stay alive and stay neutral.
In this ambitious and densely worked novel, we begin to see early signs of Ngugi's increasing bitterness about the ways in which the politicians, not the fighters or their families, are the true benefactors of the rewards on independence.