Mukoma Wa Ngugi

In Madison, Wisconsin, it’s a big deal when African peace activist Joshua Hakizimana—famous for saving hundreds of people from the Rwandan genocide—accepts a position at the university. When a young girl is found murdered on his doorstep. For local police Detective Ishmael—an African-American in an “extremely white” town—it seems like the kind of crime that happens in an area where the Ku Klux Klan still holds rallies. But then he gets a mysterious phone call: “If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.” It’s the beginning of a journey that will take Ishmael to a place still vibrating from the surrounding genocide, where NGO money rules and where the local cops shoot first and ask questions later. And although it’s the land of his ancestors, it becomes a disorienting and terrifying quest through the slums of Nairobi, a place where knowing the truth about history can kill you.

Killer Thrillers

By William Saunderson-Meyer

All writing reflects social realities, albeit inadvertently at times. It is then not surprising that race features as prominently in African crime fiction as class issues once did

Local crime writers are painfully aware that they tread a self-immolating minefield of political correctness while they try to avoid racial stereotyping.

The good news, though, is that things are getting murkier and more real...Read more


Natalie Bosman on Nairobi Heat
...Wa Ngugi is obviously following in his father’s (Ngugi wa Thiong’o) footsteps as he conjures up scenes so vivid that one can almost smell the meat markets and taste the Tusker beer.  For more, click here
M Y S T E R Y P L A C E S . N E T
mystery novels with a sense of place
The welcome discovery this month was Nairobi Heat, by Mukoma wa Ngugi, that I picked up at the airport in Johannesburg. It's not his first book, but it's his first mystery novel, set in Madison, Wisconsin and Nairobi, Kenya - 

BBC-World Service - The Strand:  The best of this week's Strand, including Mukoma wa Ngugi talking about his first novel 'Nairobi Heat', a look at a new exhibition at the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts and the extraordinary story of Ion Barladeanu, a 63 year old Romanian artist.  Listen

Ngugi’s ability to weave a complex narrative, which connects crime and racial tensions in the US to an in-depth knowledge of Kenya and its nuances, to Rwanda and its genocide past within this African crime thriller, is nothing but the work of a genius craftsman and wordsmith - Belinda Otas,New African Magazine.  To read the full review clickhere.


Nairobi Heat Burnin’ by Zukiswa Wanner

It is while in Nairobi, that he encounters that breed of person known in Kenya as a KC (Kenyan Cowboy), Lord Thompson, a strange old man and a nemesis  of O. Lord Thompson invites them for tea and later leads them to a place where they almost get killed. The question now is, how much does Lord Thompson know and who is he trying to protect? And where does the beautiful spoken word poet (I hear the pc term is Live Literary Artist now) Muddy fit in all this?  And is Joshua Hakizimana, the professor that Ishmael left behind, as heroic as the world believes he is?

To answer any of the above questions or to tell more would be to give the story away. What I can give away though is Nairobi Heat has a fast-pace that will leave you breathless but never wanting to put the book down until the very last page. As I raced through the book, I found myself cheering on O and Ishmael, I tasted the Tusker on my tongue, and I nodded my head in agreement at the wonderful insights Ngugi brings on the NGO business of ‘saving Africa.’  Click here for more

10 Questions for Mukoma wa Ngugi: Chimurenga

By: Jennifer BryantNairobi HeatA Beautiful Blonde is Dead. This image is the spark that ignites the international crime drama Nairobi Heat, the debut novel by acclaimed Kenyan writer Mukoma wa Ngugi. From the evocative title of the first chapter to the last line readers are  forced to grapple with the touchy subjects of race, class, and the sometimes relative concept of justice. I recently had the pleasure of dialoguing with Mukoma about his new novel, his thoughts on writing, and his plans for the future.  Read more...





A trip to the source of the truth - Mail & Guardian Online

Ngugi has also blurred the margins in this intercontinental tale set in Wisconsin in the United States and in Kenya. An unidentified blonde woman is found murdered on the porch belonging to Joshua Hakizimana, a Rwandan professor who teaches genocide and testimony at a US university. A dead blonde girl and a black prime suspect. It's enough to excite white America, especially in a city where the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan is active.

Indeed the narrator, Ishmael, a black detective, has advice for black criminals: "Do not commit crimes against white people because the state will not rest until you are caught." Hakizimana isn't perturbed, he's even philosophical about the whole thing.

"Detective, where I come from death is a companion, like lover or good friend," he says in English shorn of prefacing articles.
The educator ostensibly saved thousands from machete-wielding militia during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Some accounts suggest that the school he headed was a refuge for those fleeing the murderous mobs...
Click here for more from the:Mail and Guardian
"A young and beautiful white woman is murdered in the US, and the prime suspect is former Rwandan school headmaster, Joshua – a hero who had risked his life to save the innocent during Rwanda’s genocide. Ishmael, an African American detective, must investigate the case by plunging himself into Joshua’s past. He travels to Kenya, where Joshua once lived as a refugee, and fi nds himself unearthing his own African identity as he uncovers this violent crime. Kenyan author Mukoma wa Ngugi’s debut novel is a gripping and hard-hitting detective thriller that questions race, identity and class."
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