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The Perfect Nine
The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi126
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE A dazzling, genre-defying novel in verse, full of trial and sacrifice, The Perfect Nine is a glorious epic about the founding of Kenya's Gikuyu people and the ideals of beauty, courage and unity. 'One of the greatest writers of our time' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Gikuyu and Mumbi settled on the peaceful and bounteous foot of Mount Kenya after fleeing war and hunger. When ninety-nine suitors arrive on their land, seeking to marry their famously beautiful daughters, called The Perfect Nine, the parents ask their daughters to choose for themselves, but to choose wisely. First the young women must embark on a treacherous quest with the suitors, to find a magical cure for their youngest sister, Warigia, who cannot walk. As they journey up the mountain, the number of suitors diminishes and the sisters put their sharp minds and bold hearts to the test, conquering fear, doubt, hunger and many menacing ogres, as they attempt to return home. But it is perhaps Warigia's unexpected adventure that will be most challenging of all. Blending folklore, mythology and allegory, Ngugi wa Thiong'o chronicles the adventures of Gikuyu and Mumbi, and how their brave daughters became the matriarchs of the Gikuyu clans, in stunning verse, with all the epic elements of danger, humour and suspense. 'A tremendous writer... it's hard to doubt the power of the written word when you hear the story of Ngugi wa Thiong'o' Guardian
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One of the greatest writers of our time -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie A vivid, exhilarating tale with a surprisingly modern philosophy that emphasises the importance of tolerance, feminism and respect for the environment -- Anthony Gardner * Mail on Sunday * As pacy and addictive as it is measured. Thick with allegory and adventure...this is a beautifully told epic about the fundamentals of humanity * New Statesman * A beautiful work that not only refuses distinctions between "high art" and traditional storytelling, but supplies that all-too rare human necessity: the sense that life has meaning -- Fiona Sampson * Guardian * The Perfect Nine uses a deceptively simple language that lays bare deep truths. * Financial Times * In this sinuous retelling by the great Kenyan writer, the founding myth of the Gikuyu people emerges as an epic poem rivalling the Iliad in body count and surpassing it in whimsy. * New Yorker * Unfolding in wry and lyrical verse, The Perfect Nine tells a Homeric odyssey of the creation of the entire Gikuyu people-a creationist myth, an adventure tale, and a family story, wherein the wives do not simply wait at home. * Literary Hub * Seldom have the raw truths of Africa been exposed so vividly, yet humorously. . . With tales that tease, then bite, [Ngugi] tackles the absurdities, injustices and corruption of a continent -- Delia Owens, author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING on MINUTES OF GLORY * New York Times Book Review * The Perfect Nine is one of the year's great discoveries. * Economist * It is the farthest you could possibly get from the grim, wet reality of a lockdown Christmas in London and is exactly what I want to escape with -- Alicia Lansom * Refinery29 * [The Perfect Nine] departs from the sprawl of his past novels into an engaging if slight lyrical epic. Combining Homeric verse with oral storytelling tropes-choruses, chants, songs-he retells the origin myth of the Gikuyu, Kenya's largest tribe. . . . Thiong'o's fans will appreciate this. * Publishers Weekly * A visionary writer * Financial Times * Ngugi wa Thiong'o's first venture into epic poetry is a triumph of the form, which resounds with the lyrical heartbeat of the Gikuyu people in Kenya as Ngugi chronicles their mythic history. * World Literature Today * A tremendous writer... it's hard to doubt the power of the written word when you hear the story of Ngugi wa Thiong'o * Guardian * In his crowded career and eventful life, Ngugi has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial and linguistic currents * Daily Telegraph * Ngugi masterfully sings us through an origin story written in verse. This book is a magisterial and poetic tale about women's place in a society of Gods. It is also about disability and how expectations shape and determine characters' spiritual anchoring. -- 2021 International Booker Prize Judges [The Perfect Nine's] sophistication comes from the use of the narrative voice, which positions the reader as part of a common humanity -- Madhu Krishnan * London Review of Books * A beautiful work that not only refuses distinctions between "high art" and traditional storytelling, but supplies that all-too rare human necessity: the sense that life has meaning -- Fiona Sampson * Guardian * It is the farthest you could possibly get from the grim, wet reality of a lockdown Christmas in London and is exactly what I want to escape with -- Alicia Lansom * Refinery29 * The Perfect Nine is one of the year's great discoveries * Economist *
Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the leading writers and scholars at work in the world today. His books include the novels Petals of Blood, for which he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in 1977, A Grain of Wheat and Wizard of the Crow; the memoirs, Dreams in a Time of War, In the House of the Interpreter and Birth of a Dream Weaver; and the essays, Decolonizing the Mind, Something Torn and New and Globalectics. Recipient of many honours, among them ten honorary doctorates, he is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.