Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has established himself as one of the leading second-generation African writers. His first two novels, Weep Not, Child (London, Heinemann, 1964) and The River Between (London, Heinemann, 1965), written while an undergraduate at Makerere University College, Kampala, brought him recognition as the foremost East African writer. His third novel, A Grain of Wheat (London, Heinemann, 1967), established James Ngugi, as he then called himself, as one of the most distinguished literary voices from Africa. There was a long pause before Ngũgĩ published his next novel, Petals of Blood (London, Heinemann, 1977). The change in name signalled that during the intervening years he had developed a radical new perspective on Kenya, the explicit locale of all his writing.
* Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut, Storrs. An earlier version of this study was presented at the African Literature Association Conference, Guadeloupe, April 1993.