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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  798 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice.

Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Knopf (first published June 5th 2013)
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Lisa I think "the African experience" is too general, really. Kenya is a specific place in a vast continent of many widely varied cultures and histories,…moreI think "the African experience" is too general, really. Kenya is a specific place in a vast continent of many widely varied cultures and histories, and it feels like Westerners too often don't get that. This magnificent book definitely opened my eyes to the specific time and place, peoples and politics of Kenya in the 2000s and the legacy of post-colonial events in the 50s and 60s. That said, I feel like there must be many (too many) stories similar to this throughout post-colonial Africa (the world, even), and I do agree that the extraordinary power of this book is its ability to take us beyond the specific experience it portrays. It certainly—beautifully!—speaks to the universal human yearning for belonging, forgiveness, safety, family, redemption, personal freedom, self-determination — and love. I think that is the beauty and power of successful fiction, and quite possibly its (sadly unrealized!) potential for bridging humanity in a common understanding of what matters.(less)

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This may be one of the most difficult books I've ever read and also, in the end, one of the most beautiful. It's human voice is so immense, so painful, so incredibly hard to listen to at times but so real.

I have never been to Kenya and am not likely to ever get to Africa at this point in my life (sadly) but I feel I have seen a glimpse of life that is not on tourists' maps but is of lives lived over the past 50 plus years as colonialism ended and Kenya has striven to become its own land. The co
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dust opens with a shimmering vibrance that throws open the doors of perception, indeed unscrews them from their jambs. Odidi is running and remembering. He remembers through objects: the AK47 he throws away takes him back to a moment of transcendental communion through music and an occasion of buying a gift for 'his woman', whose name he cries out silently.

He discards the gun, he calls out love, returns to love. His gift is lingerie. What does it mean for two men to bond over the intimate femini
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Sue
I think if I knew more about Kenya, I would've give this an additional star, so take that as a failure of the reader, not the writer. The novel seems to be jam-packed with the country's history, people, landscape and even perhaps mythology, all of it starting with the murder of a young man and ending with a slow reveal of multiple secrets. It is an absorbing immersion into the inner and outer lives of the characters and the country.

As one example of how much I don't know, I thought the reference
Ron Charles
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This winter offers an unusually rich bounty of novels about Africa. “Radiance of Tomorrow,” Ishmael Beah’s gracious story of rebuilding a village in Sierra Leone, was just the beginning. Next week, Susan Minot will publish “Thirty Girls,” which is about a Ugandan teenager kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army; next month, we’ll get Teju Cole’s “Every Day Is for the Thief,” which focuses on a Nigerian American who returns to Lagos. And now we have an astonishing novel from Kenyan writer Yvonne ...more
Bill Khaemba
This left me breathless Holy Sh*t! I need to gather my thoughts but it was an amazing reading experience

In the past, I have struggled to connect with Kenyan Literature and it didn't help that my English teacher wasn't as enthusiastic about it either. Majority of the books I came across were predominately politically driven and that just didn't suite my contemporary taste. So I took upon myself to try out Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo crossing my fingers that this might be the book that finally reign
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Awuor Onguru for recommending this lovely, dense novel! Author Adhiambo has one of the freshest new voices out there, weaving melancholy, history, and passion to examine a group of interconnected families during some of Kenya's most turbulent times.

Nota Bene: it took me a few pages to get used to Adhiambo's style. Yet it so perfectly captures the mood of the story and its characters that now I cannot imagine this drama conveyed in any other way.

The book also made me nostalgic for Kenya
Friederike Knabe
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-lit, africa
Sometimes you open a book and you know immediately whether the writing will grab you and the first sentences promise that the story will carry you to the last. That was the case for me when I opened Dust , Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's outstanding debut novel. In it Owuor weaves a rich and colourful tapestry of a land, its people and its recent history. The novel is as much a portrait of one family and its members' struggles and challenges, as it is the story of the land and the country, Kenya, from ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was hard for me. I did not really like the writing style in many places. The NYTimes review said "Only the reader who truly loves books — books full to brimming with imagery — will appreciate the magic Owuor has made of the classic nation-at-war novel. With splintered lyricism, she tells the story of the Oganda family...Owuor’s prose is a physical expression of the landscape it evokes: raw, fragmented, dense, opaque." Much of it was too splintered and opaque for me. On the other hand, ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a hard read.
A slog even.
Because of the themes it deals with.
And the writing style.
Fragmented in parts
There's a good story
But you will need patience.

And that's my attempt at recreating some of the prose in this book. The prologue is what really sets the stage for this story. A man is running, chased by a mob as we are treated to flashbacks from his life, it's fast paced and you can't help wanting to know: why was he killed? Who is he? And what led up to all this
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lyrical.. poetic.. melancholic.. in short, ALL. THE. FEELS. Dust is a poetic family saga entwined with Kenya’s post colonial history and the ways in which covered up history has continued to shape our national identity. What struck me the most was the use of beautiful language in the midst of so much ugliness. Owuor narrated events that will fill you with disgust and disenchantment, but somehow it was also interspersed with passages that brought peace, understanding, closure and hope - hope for ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
A story of damaged people in a damaged country, with lyrical poetic passages. Information is meted out in dribs and drabs, which made the story somewhat confusing at times, particularly as my knowledge of the history of Kenya is pretty much nil. Although much gets resolved by the end, I'm not sure that I truly figured out why two of the characters, Akai-ma and Hugh Bolton, acted as they did. A very interesting read, definitely worth the time.
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
A very difficult read. The words are too flowery and the story is choppy and difficult to follow. Unfortunately because of the style of writing I will not finish this book.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Product description:
From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice.
Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
A young man runs for his life in the streets of Nairobi, chased by unnamed assailants. Bullets whiz in all directions. As he runs, he flashes back to his girlfriend and his sister, Ajany. A bullet finds its target and he crumbles. He bleeds on the sidewalk. He coughs up blood. He stops breathing. Odidi Oganda is dead.

This is the dramatic opening of Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Serving as the focal point, Odidi’s death catapults us down labyrinthine paths that intertwine the tragedy of a family
Roger Brunyate
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, africa
Kenya, in Fragments

Before publication date in late January 2014, I hope that Amazon will have activated the "Look Inside" feature. The enthusiastic endorsements that have been used in advance publicity for this debut novel—praising its epic scale, emotional turmoil, and historic sweep—may well be true, but the reader has to feel comfortable enough with the actual writing to get the measure of the book. If the feature is enabled, read the first three pages. I had hoped that their staccato fragmen
John Wood
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It is rare one gets to read a novel that intimately explores a place intimately connected to one’s own life. It happens generally, of course. Novels explore matters of humanity and in that way touch us one way or another.

But Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor has written a novel of Kenya (but also perhaps of Africa, and that said also of the world), set mainly in northern Kenya, where I have lived and worked. She takes me to home away from home.

Not, however, by way of nostalgia. Much of this book jarred my m
DUST opens with a brilliant, charismatic hero running for his life through the streets of Nairobi. He's chased down, shot, and killed by the police. All in chapter 1. He returns only in his lingering affect on the novel's main characters.

What follows is spectacular, inventive, complex writing unlike anything I've read. There are mysteries in this book: mysteries of identity of parentage of disappearances and untimely deaths. These mysteries apply to the characters and to the country in which the
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2014, kenya, favorites
Dust is a symphony of memories, love, and grief. I savored the reading, the language, the story – and I also had to read slowly lest I be be overwhelmed.

Ostensibly the story is of a family and what happens when Odidi, the adult son, is shot. Dust is also the story of the hopes, dreams, achievements and disappointments of Odidi and Ajany, their parents Nyipir and Akai, of Galgalu, of Isaiah’s search, of a wandering trader, and of two policemen, Petrus and Ali Dida Hada. It is also the story of Ke
Amanda Lichtenstein
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous, luscious poetic writing -- but I got totally lost in the plot.
Vincent de Paul
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor has done a tremendous and commendable job in Dust. At first the reader is thrown around without knowing what is really happening (a style the author has employed well), but once you get going it's thrilling, sometimes gripping. The story goes back and forth, you wander into different worlds - the colonial and post-colonial Kenya, the 2007/08 post-election violence, and the wild West.

I enjoyed reading this book as much as I hated the 'clippy' and 'choppy' narration, too much

Was für ein Buch! Da es ein Rezensionsexemplar von vorablesen war hat es mich zuerst so gar nicht interessiert, weil ich mit Afrika nicht die allerbesten Dinge verbinde, aber dann hat die Neugier doch gesiegt. Und ich kann nur sagen: zum Glück!

Worum geht's?

Odidi Oganda wird in einer Seitenstraße in Nairobi erschossen. Sein Vater Aggrey Nyipir Oganda möchte ihn zu ihrer Farm - Wuoth Ogik - bringen, um ihn dort zu begraben, Odidis Schwester Arabel Ajany Oganda, die aus Brasilien gekommen ist, ist
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
The story line had a lot of potential for a master piece. However, call it artistic or whatever, the book was damn difficult to read. Yvonne jumped all over without warning, leaving the reader wondering where she or he was at.

I think the book was raising an awareness about Kenya, with special reference to the ideal Kenya that The murdered Mr. Mboya sacrificed for, and the current mess the country finds itself into, in the hands of current politicians. The fictitious story around which the story
Brenda Kodawa
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read but rewarding all the same. I did feel that she dragged the story for a longer time than expected and then all of a sudden spewed the secrets almost as if in a hurry to finish. However, the vocabulary keeps you on the edge and it is a fresh new writing style I am glad to have been introduced to.
Wathingira Muthang'ato
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5/5 stars.
Mixed reviews - some online readers said it was brilliant... most of my personal friends were more tepid in their reactions - mostly because of the style of writing (see more on this below). On a whim, I decided to try it.

I loved it!!!

A man (robber/gangster) is gunned down in Nairobi. His family bring his body home to Northern Kenya for burial. But almost as soon as they get there, closely guarded secrets start to unravel and each must face their past.

Sounds simple enough - a story
Ian Mond
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What’s It About

Short answer: The story of colonial and post colonial Kenya.

Long answer: The death of Odidi Oganda, gunned down in the streets of Nairobi, forces his family to face secrets from their past, secrets intertwined with the colonial and post colonial history of Kenya.

Should I Read It?

Absolutely you should. Dust is not a happy book, it’s steeped in the violence that Kenya and its people have faced during British rule and after the Mau Mau rebellion in 1963. But it’s not a “worthy” book
Really mixed feelings about this one. Parts of it were brilliant but as a whole novel it felt hyper-stylised and bloated, just hard work really. It perfectly evokes the sense of dread, corruption, chaos and turmoil in wider Kenya, and sparked me to go and do wider reading into the political background to this novel, of which I was previously woefully ignorant. But the characters themselves didn't particularly grab me. And the poetic language is laid on so thick that I read and re-read certain pa ...more
Deirdre Metcalf
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Parts of this book I absolutely adored while other parts really fell flat. The main character, Ajany really kept me turning the pages. The flashbacks of Odidi were really beautiful.
There were many other characters featured in this book, none of which I liked. Also, I don't feel as if I learned much about Kenya in reading this book.
Overall I gave this 3 stars just for the pure enjoyment of Ajany and Odidi.
Razaq Mzale
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
If books had a "reading difficulty" rating, this would get a solid 5/5.

The only other book I have ever stopped reading halfway was 50 Shades of Grey. 50 Shades of Grey was a terrible book. This one is not. Dust is not a bad book. It is just written in such a way that only a niche group of people would enjoy it. I happen to not exist in this subgroup of society that, apparently, have the mental agility of a rocket scientist poet. This book requires so much concentration and effort to keep up wit
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sprachgewaltig und gehaltvoll

Ajany kehrt aus Brasilien nach Kenia zurück, um gemeinsam mit ihrem Vater die Leiche ihres Bruders zu ihrer Farm zurückzuführen. Odidi wurde in den Straßen Nairobis erschossen. Nun bewegt sich Ajany auf den Spuren ihres Bruders, während die Mutter vor Kummer in die Wildnis geflohen ist. Zeitgleich taucht der Brite Isaiah auf, der auf der Suche nach seinem eigenen Vater auf der verfallenen Farm von Ajanys Familie landet. Alte Wunden reißen auf, die auch mit der Gesc
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A poetic, haunting book weakened by over-use of poetic haunting. Suspense evaporates instead of crystallizing. Owuor writes well and opened up so many deep stories within this story, but they mostly fizzled, and what didn't fizzle took too long to explain because the plot was written in endless, breathless lines of one-word dialogue. Very tiring to read once one realizes there will never be a gulp of air. I began to learn so much and left with so many more questions-- about 2007 election violenc ...more
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Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (born 1968) is a Kenyan writer, who was named "Woman of the Year" by Eve Magazine in Kenya in 2004 for her contribution to the country's literature and arts. She won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story "Weight of Whispers", which considers an aristocratic Rwandan refugee in Kenya. The story was originally published in Kwani?, the Kenyan literary magazine se ...more
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