Books

Wrestling with the Devil by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o writes about living as a political prisoner in Kenya and writing a novel while under constant surveillance in his memoir.

Wrestling with the Devil by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Wrestling with the Devil, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's powerful prison memoir, begins half an hour before his release on Dec. 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 18 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, a world-renowned author, decides to write a novel on toilet paper. That book would become his classic, Devil on the Cross.

Written in the early 1980s and never before published in Canada, Wrestling with the Devil is Ngũgĩ's account of the drama and the challenges of writing fiction under 24-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. (From New Press)

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