From one of Africa’s most influential and eloquent essayists, a posthumous collection that highlights his biting satire and subversive wisdom on topics from travel to cultural identity to sexuality
“A fierce literary talent . . . [Wainaina] shines a light on his continent without cliché.”—The Guardian
“Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. . . . Africa is to be pitied, worshipped, or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.”
Binyavanga Wainaina was a pioneering voice in African literature, an award-winning memoirist and essayist, and a gatherer of literary communities. Before his tragic death in 2019 at the age of forty-seven, he won the Caine Prize for African Writing and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. His wildly popular essay “How to Write About Africa,” an incisive and unapologetic piece exposing the harmful and racist ways Western media depicts Africa with implicit bias and subjective clichés, changed the game for African writers and helped set the stage for a new generation of authors, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Yaa Gyasi. When Wainaina published a “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir as an essay called “I Am a Homosexual, Mum,” which imagines coming out to his mother, he became a voice for the queer African community as well, adding a new layer to how African sexuality is perceived. How to Write About Africa collects these powerful pieces in a lively and imaginative set of essays about sexuality, art, history, and contemporary Africa. Wainaina’s writing is playful, robust, generous, and full-bodied. He describes the modern world with sensual, emotional, and psychological detail, giving us a full-color view of a country and continent. These works present a portrait of a giant in African literature who left a tremendous legacy.
About the Author
Binyavanga Wainaina was a Kenyan author, activist, and journalist, and the 2002 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. His debut book, the memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place, was published in 2011. Time magazine included Wainaina in its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014. He died in 2019.
“It’s beginning to seem like Binyavanga Wainaina’s satirical essay ‘How to Write About Africa’ might be, after the Bible, the most read English-language text on the African continent. . . . This collection of his writing—the first to be published since he died—makes it difficult not to feel the scale of [his] loss. . . . A fierce literary talent . . . [Wainaina] shines a light on his continent without cliché.”—The Guardian