A Signed First Edition Club Recommendation
"The personal is intensely political in Wrestling with the Devil. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s prison memoir captures the urgency of an author reconciling his artistic and political mission with the immense psychological toll of imprisonment. His story—like his country’s—is harrowing in its details but hopeful in its defiant and unwavering insistence on human dignity. This was my introduction to Ngũgĩ‘s writing, and I couldn’t have found a better place to start."
An unforgettable chronicle of the year the brilliant novelist and memoirist, long favored for the Nobel Prize, was thrown in a Kenyan jail without charge
Wrestling with the Devil, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o powerful prison memoir, begins literally half an hour before his release on December 12, 1978. In one extended flashback, he recalls the night, a year earlier, when armed police pulled him from his home and jailed him in Kenya’s Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o; Maximum Security Prison, one of the largest in Africa. There, he lives in a prison block with eighteen other political prisoners, quarantined from the general prison population.
In a conscious effort to fight back the humiliation and the intended degradation of the spirit, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o;—the world-renowned author of Weep Not, Child; Petals of Blood; and Wizard of the Crow—decides to write a novel on toilet paper, the only paper to which he has access, a book that will become his classic, Devil on the Cross.
Written in the early 1980s and never before published in America, Wrestling with the Devil is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o account of the drama and the challenges of writing the novel under twenty-four-hour surveillance. He captures not only the excruciating pain that comes from being cut off from his wife and children but also the spirit of defiance that defines hope. Ultimately, Wrestling with the Devil is a testimony to the power of imagination to help humans break free of confinement, which is truly the story of all art.