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The perfect nine : the epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi

by Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1938-

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: On Order 7 copies
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A dazzling, genre-defying novel in verse from the author Delia Owens says "tackles the absurdities, injustices, and corruption of a continent"

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's novels and memoirs have received glowing praise from the likes of President Barack Obama, the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, and NPR; he has been a finalist for the Man International Booker Prize and is annually tipped to win the Nobel Prize for Literature; and his books have sold tens of thousands of copies around the world.

In his first attempt at the epic form, Ngũgĩ tells the story of the founding of the Gĩkũyũ people of Kenya, from a strongly feminist perspective. A verse narrative, blending folklore, mythology, adventure, and allegory, The Perfect Nine chronicles the efforts the Gĩkũyũ founders make to find partners for their ten beautiful daughters--called "The Perfect Nine" --and the challenges they set for the 99 suitors who seek their hands in marriage. The epic has all the elements of adventure, with suspense, danger, humor, and sacrifice.

Ngũgĩ's epic is a quest for the beautiful as an ideal of living, as the motive force behind migrations of African peoples. He notes, "The epic came to me one night as a revelation of ideals of quest, courage, perseverance, unity, family; and the sense of the divine, in human struggles with nature and nurture."

Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Kenyan writer Thiong'o (Birth of a Dream Weaver) 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. The title is a reference to the "perfect nine" (10, in Thiong'o's retelling) beautiful daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi (the first father and mother) who are married off to men who appear after a prayer. In Thiong'o's version, 99 men compete for the women's hands, who in turn compete against them. Gikuyu explains to the suitors that his daughters will "do the choosing," adding that all couples are to remain living with him and Mumbi. This angers one man, who retorts: "I came to marry to take away, not to be taken in." He leaves and a few men join him; some of those who remain lose out to the women in archery and riding challenges, or simply quit; others die. The book takes a fantastical turn when Gikuyu and Mumbi issue their final challenge: a quest to steal from an ogre king a hair that can cure their disabled daughter, Warigia. The remaining story is rigidly heroic--evil creatures, heroic deeds, a bittersweet ending--giving this a Disneyesque sheen. Thiong'o's fans will appreciate this, even if it doesn't rise to the heights of his most accomplished work. (Oct.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Kikuyu (African people) -- Social life and customs.
Publisher New York :2020
Other Titles Kenda Mũiyũru.
Language English
Notes "Originally published in Kenya as Kenda Mũiyũru by East African Educational Publishers Ltd, in 2018."--Title page verso.
Description pages cm
ISBN 9781620975251
Other Classic View