Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Wrestling with the Devil:
A Prison Memoir
in conversation with MŨKOMA WA NGŨGĨ
This event includes a book signing
April 17, 2018
6:00 PM ET
(Doors at 5:30)
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Book Store, the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, and Mass Humanities welcome renowned Kenyan writer and scholar NGŨGĨ WA THIONG'O—author of the acclaimed novel Wizard of the Crow—for a discussion of his latest book, Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir. He will be joined in conversation by his son, Cornell professor and author Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, who will be signing copies of his latest book, The Rise of the African Novel.
About Wrestling with the Devil
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s 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 Kamĩtĩ 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—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’s account of the drama and the challenges of writing fiction 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.
“One of the greatest writers of our time.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"In his crowded career and his eventful life, Ngũgĩ has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial, and linguistic currents." —John Updike, The New Yorker
Also available for purchase: The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity, and Ownership by Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ (Learn more)
All pre-sales tickets include a copy of Wrestling with the Devil, admission into the event, and a $5 coupon for use in the bookstore. Pre-sales tickets (online only) are available for two weeks, after which a $5 ticket option will also go on sale. Books bundled with pre-sale tickets may only be picked up at the venue the night of the event, and cannot be picked up in-store beforehand.
$5 tickets will also be available at Harvard Book Store and over the phone at 617-661-1515. Unless the event is sold out, any remaining tickets will be on sale at the door of the venue when doors open.
Tickets are non-refundable and non-returnable.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 10 minutes
As you exit the station, cross Mass. Ave. and proceed along Brattle St. Follow Brattle St. as it curves to the right in Brattle Square (follow the sidewalk on the right side of the street). The Brattle will be on the left-hand side of the street. The building is shared with Algiers Cafe and Alden & Harlow Restaurant, and the theatre entrance is on the left side of the building—look for the sidewalk poster case and marquee.
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Due to limited time, no personalizations and no posed photographs. Thank you for your understanding.
The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University supports research on the history and culture of people of African descent the world over and provides a forum for collaboration and the ongoing exchange of ideas. Learn more at hutchinscenter.fas.harvard.edu.
Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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