"Nairobi Heat takes us to Kenya with a refreshing authority... Besides the usual fun and thrill of crime novels, what makes the book a delicious read is that it’s also packed with engaged and relevant social commentary."
--The New York Times
"If you're weary of the glut of Scandinavian crime fiction, take a trip to Kenya's teeming capital city. "
--The New York Post
"A fast-paced hard-boiled crime novel... We suggest you pick up a copy if you know what's good for you."
"Just as the works of James Ellroy and Carl Hiaasen dig beneath the glitter of Hollywood and South Beach, respectively, to reveal a nasty, fetid underside, [Nairobi Heat] rips away images of the Sahara and safaris and goes beyond nightly news pictures of deprivation."
--The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (US)
"Ishmael Fofona, Ngugi's detective, may not as yet have taken over from Kurt Wallander in our affections, but I'm hoping it's only a matter of time."
--The Telegraph (UK)
"Sizzling...an action-packed cross-cultural ride, crackling with detail garnered from the author's experience reporting on the African communities in which this story is set."
--Barnes & Noble Review
"An engaging insider's view of the cultural divide between Americans and Africans." --Publishers Weekly
“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.”
--New African Magazine
“Nairobi Heat’s biggest triumph is the way it forces us to re-examine accepted narratives and received truths.”
--The Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
A cop from Wisconsin pursues a killer through the terrifying slums of Nairobi and the memories of genocide.
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.
NoViolet Bulawayo reviews Nairobi Heat in The New York Times
"I generally love my books on the heavy side, the kind that leave me dizzied by humanity and gasping for air. But were I to hit the beach right now I’d take with me something laid back, pleasurable, and still compelling, and "Nairobi Heat" by Mukoma Wa Ngugi comes to mind. It’s a fast-paced novel about an African-American detective trying to solve the murder of an unnamed young white woman in a whirlwind of action that takes us from a suburb in Madison, Wis., where the crime occurs, to the slums and streets of Nairobi, Kenya. This alone delights me -- somehow most African works seem to move in the opposite direction, from Africa to the West.
"Nairobi Heat" takes us to Kenya with a refreshing authority, and we encounter the East African country as a complex place with interesting people and stories. By the end of the novel I want to pack my bags for a visit. But besides the usual fun and thrill of crime novels, what makes the book a delicious read is that it’s also packed with engaged and relevant social commentary, including the often unexplored relationship between Africans and African-Americans, and the shenanigans that go on in the world of international philanthropy. These may be serious issues but they are easy to wade through because the book is light and easy to read. Despite sections where I had to suspend disbelief, I still couldn't wait to read the next page."
Link to original article.
"In a way I do mirror — or maybe Ishmael mirrors — you know, my struggles for identity. Eventually I had to tell myself, 'Who decides a person can have only one identity? Who is the gatekeeper of identity?' And I just decided to acknowledge, to live out, my multiple identities."
--Mukoma Wa Ngugi
Listen to Mukoma discuss the novel on The Strand interview on the BBC World Service.