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Variksen Velho

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,274 ratings  ·  311 reviews
Variksen Velho on pysähdyttävä kertomus Afrikan diktatuurin kokeneista maista. Se sijoittuu fiktiiviseen Aburirian valtioon, jossa nuoret rakastavaiset Nyawira ja Kamiti taistelevat maan korruptoitunutta hallintoa vastaan. Valtiaan syntymäpäivän kunniaksi aiotaan pystyttää taivaaseen asti ulottuva rakennelma. Jotta hankkeelle saataisiin Globaalipankin rahoitus, Abuririassa ...more
Hardcover, 765 pages
Published 2007 by WSOY (first published 2006)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  2,274 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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This is a monumental, epic book that encompasses most of Africa's post-colonial history, and one which I feel hopelessly unqualified to review.

It was originally written in the Gĩkũyũ language, for local consumption in Kenya, and was translated into English by the author himself. It is an outrageous mixture of fantasy, farce and social commentary which draws on history, religion and local mythology. At different times I was reminded of Bulgakov, Rushdie and Marquez, but it occupies a truly uniqu
In Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, Ngugi wa Thiong'o complained that African neo-colonial leaders behave so ridiculously that it's hard to satirise them (similarly, my Dad recently quoted to me from an interview about Bremner Bird & Fortune 'it's getting easier to make fun of politicians. Lots of our later sketches mainly consisted of reading out government policy') but he manages to do it here to painfully funny effect. At the same time he completely d ...more
In the life of a bookworm, there's no greater feeling than finishing a chunker of a book and ending up enjoying it immensely. It's also rare to encounter a tale that is so unconventional and new that is must be described as a revelation. I am incredibly happy that I finally got around to reading Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. I was reminded of this book last fall when I attended a lecture of Ngũgĩ's son. Since then I've been dying to pick up his work.

To understand African literature,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
If you love Dictator Novels you'll love this one.

Also, there's just not that many long books I've come across from the African Continent. There's The City of God of course, but that's not really what we're talking about. So of course you offer me an 800 page brick of a book from The Continent, sure, I'm going to go after it. And in a day and an age like this, if you reside in the USofA and you're curious about LeClair's call for a Rump=Age novel, well, here you'll have a pretty good model to wor
Wizard of the Crow

Commencing in “our times” and set in the “Free Republic of Aburlria,” the novel dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburirian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry; and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow r
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation
I have a thing for books that create their own mythologies, and Wizard of the Crow has risen to the top of that list. Set in a fictional African country, this novel takes a serious romp through a stretch of land containing a Postcolonial dictatorship at odds with its people, hysterically played out through a young couple claiming to be The Wizard of the Crow, a sorcerer capable of knowing even The Ruler's deepest secret, the guilt of "white envy," by divination through a mirror. I realize this r ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kenya
There are quite a few legends in this world. One of the oldest tells of how the people of Babylon decided to build a tower all the way up to Heaven. But to no one’s great surprise, The Lord disapproved, and not only did he tear the tower down but by making everyone speak different languages he also made sure that nothing like it would ever happen again.

Bah humbug, says the dictator of the compleeetely fictional African country of Aburiria (really, it has absolutely nothing to do with wa Thiong'o
Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Best book ever.
Gumble's Yard
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Epic, satirical, magical-realism account of the fictional African country of Aburiria. Aburiria is an African dictatorship run by a typical African big-man “The Ruler” whose control over the country remains strong but who increasingly struggles to find his way in a post Cold-War world where his previous allies in the West now criticise the very actions for which he was once praised and who increasingly finds himself a puppet of the American led Global Bank. He is surrounded by sycophantic minist ...more
Jeff Van Campen
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of good satire and magical realism
Shelves: fiction
This is a fantastic piece of satire. If you enjoyed The Master and Margarita or Gulliver's Travels, you're almost certain to appreciate this book. On the other hand, if you're a fan of Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie, you will find a familiar voice in Ngugi Wa'Thiong'O.

I can not recommend this book highly enough. I couldn't put it down, and I loved every minute of it. You should read it.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who possess both good taste and senses of humor.
Recommended to Libby by: Silburygirl on LJ
Set the fictional dictatorship of Abruria, this 2006 novel chronicles the decline of the corrupt Ruler and the rise of the resistance, which is inextricably linked with a powerful figure known as the Wizard of the Crow.

Sounds very grand, doesn't it? And it certainly is, with a broad and varied cast of characters from all walks of life and a powerful message of hope. The label "magical realism" gets tossed around a lot these days, nearly invariably referring to a nonwhite author's mixing of the
Paul Dembina
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't have to say other than I thoroughly enjoyed this satire about a fictitious (?) African dictator
These weapons are to protect our right to political struggle and not a substitute for political struggle.
I'll have this book be the closing point to 2017 because firstly I'm tired and secondly a massive political satire seems a good way to end on of the most baffling political years in recent US history. Much as I probably should, I can't seem to avoid cutting my teeth on new authors via their biggest books, so when I desired to explore Nobel Prize for Lit potentials, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o came to
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*bumping this up to 5 stars. after a couple of months i'm realising this book is going to stay with me, and I rather miss it. I need to read more stuff by him soon*

I read the first 40 pages (Book One) of this novel before going to bed, and absolutely loved it. Book One told of the myths and stories surrounding the despotic ruler of the post-colonial African nation in which this novel is set. The writing and stories were so wonderfully creative and rich. Then from Book Two onwards we are introduc
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the African classic novel. Probably as good as any novel gets in depicting Africa's post colonialism culture, politics and problems.
It depicts a fictitious country with a despotic Ruler.
His two closest aides jostle for attention and one-upmanship.
Everyone in power are corrupt.
Everyone not in power are poor.
The USA and IMF/World Bank take a hammering in trying to ensuring the now independent African nations remain dependent on US dollars.
The Churches are hammered as not matter what the
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
Well, finally finished the nearly 800 page novel, The Wizard of the Crow, by Nugui wa Thiongo. I read much of Nugui’s novels and other works during my political activists days in college. I wrote a paper about one of his most respected novels, Devil on the Cross. The professor who helped me with the paper wanted me to present it at an African literature conference at Standford Univ. (this was in the mid 1980s), but I was too shy to do it. I wasn’t very good at speaking in front of large gatherin ...more
Yuko Shimizu
If anyone is intimidated by 750+ page length, you certainly shouldn't. It was definitely the main reason why I had to put this off for so long (like, years!), as I am an ESL after all and read much much slower in English compared to my first language of Japanese. However, as soon as I started reading I got sucked in, and didn't even think about what page I am on.
The novel is written in simple language that is easy to understand and entertaining to read, but also deep and rich with history and p
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reviewed, 1-men
As a look into Africa, African culture and African Literature this book is excellent. It’s satirical and deeply serious, and clearly written by someone who understands and is passionate about it.
The characters are incredibly layered and complex and even the ones you assume are the “bad guys” you end up understanding and sympathizing with. This is very important, because while it’s very clear whose side you ought to be on, real life is never that black and white. This is something the book conve
Leslie Reese
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-authors
This book is ambitious and over-the-top!

Can science, psychiatry, and moral political activism resolve brutal abuses of political power or must spiritual values and practices of global religions (ancient and contemporary) be employed as well?

So many storytellers in this tale---many are corrupt and greedy liars merely trying to save their own asses but the tales they come up with! Their utterances and praises! Convincingness to the Nth degree! Call-and-response, repetition, cues from the audienc
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, an astonishing book. So much is encompassed within the poetic prose; Wa Thiong'o speaks eloquently about the effects of colonialism in African countries, about the violence against women across the globe, and about the poison that seeps into governments that are entangled in capitalist campaigns. Wa Thiong'o is able to tell a history that makes you question the importance of facts, dates, and names. His characters stand for many men and women, his country stands for many countries, and the ...more
Ngugi wa Thiong'o is an exiled Kenyan writer. Born in Kenya he was baptized as a Christian. He renounced it, even English, changed his name to ' Ngugi wa Thiong'o' and writes in his native tongue. He then translates them back himself to English. This is how his novels are published. He is also an opponent of the oppressive Kenyan government and has suffered a lot due to that. More on that later. His novels do not focus on the effect of colonization and conversion to Christianity in Africa as is ...more
Jul 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, I can't believe I finished! I feel like finishing this book was an accomplishment. Many people compare this African novel to the Confederacy of Dunces and I see the similarities, but getting into the story is a full-time effort and commitment. Its worth it in the end, especially if you appreciate the style of African story-telling, long-winded at times as it is.
Taru Luojola
Riemastuttava tragikoominen kohelluskertomus afrikkalaisesta diktatuurista, pyrkyreiden kilpailusta, uskontojen ja uskomusten sekoittumisesta ja legendojen synnystä. Tarinaan mukaan pääsemisessä kesti hetkensä, ja aina välillä tuntui, että nyt jää jotain symboliikkaa ymmärtämättä, mutta sitten päästiin taas hersyviin käänteisiin ja absurdeihin takaa-ajokohtauksiin. Samaan aikaan tiukasti uusliberalistisen globalisaation aikaan sidottu ja ajaton kertomus, jonka aikajana venyy ja paukkuu kertojan ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-plan, african
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read about this satirical book in the Wall Street Journal and was curious. It was on display at the library and I was shocked at how long it is, 765 pages and it is worth the read. The book satirizes and essentializes post-colonial African politics in a fable like story. The whole book is filled with lessons about government corruption, overcoming patriarchy, and the complexity of racial and economic relationships. The hero and heroine Kamiti and Nywira are righteous and lovable rebels who use ...more
Jeffrey Mervosh
This might be my new favorite book. An absolute masterful blend of magical realism and social commentary, infused with vivid storytelling and a good dose of comedy - this book has it all. I've seen reviews hail Thiong'o as the "African Gabriel Garcia Marquez" and this book as the "African Brave New World" but I think both descriptors do this book a disservice. Having read the other author and novel, I believe this book rises far above them.

Though set in a fictional locale, Thiong'o draws directl
Shelley Ettinger
I've got a multi-installment lit rant in defense of political fiction running over at my blog Read Red, and now that I've finished this magnificent novel I'll soon be writing about Ngugi's book to back up my arguments. Of course, the U.S. literary establishment finds it easier to praise political works from other countries, it seems to me, than those from here, both because "foreign" literature is, well, foreign, and because, especially in the case of African fiction, they're happy to concentrat ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-fiction
Brilliant work. A master of story teller. I enjoy every word, every page and every character. A page turner.

It is funny and sad at the same time. This 766 pages of book is a lot to chew in one sitting. I don't mind. There's something to look forward after a long day at work. I wonder what happen next, with the Ruler and the Wizard. It seems like a character can appear and disappear without warning - that could be reality of many in real world. A joke that not so much of a joke. A plot that took
Perhaps a bit too long for my taste - or maybe it would've seemed shorter if I didn't have to write an essay about it plus 1929127 things more for uni - but a great satirical novel nonetheless. I particularly loved the focus on black feminism and women's rights as well as the criticism throughout the novel of corrupt governments taking over the colonial legacy once the colonisers leave. It is also a beautiful work of magical realism - reminds me a bit of Ben Okri's short stories - that I definit ...more
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Great African Reads: Wizard of the Crow (possibly March) 29 52 Mar 17, 2014 11:56PM  
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  • One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir
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  • An Elegy for Easterly: Stories
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Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright, whose works function as an important link between the pioneers of African writing and the younger generation of postcolonial writers. After imprisonment in 1978, Ngũgĩ abandoned using English as the primary language of his work in favor of Gikuyu, his native tongue. The transition from colonialism to postcoloniality and the crisis of modernity ha ...more
“Why did Africa let Europe cart away millions of Africa's souls from the continent to the four corners of the wind? How could Europe lord it over a continent ten times its size? Why does needy Africa continue to let its wealth meet the needs of those outside its borders and then follow behind with hands outstretched for a loan of the very wealth it let go? How did we arrive at this, that the best leader is the one that knows how to beg for a share of what he has already given away at the price of a broken tool? Where is the future of Africa?” 46 likes
“The condition of women in a nation is the real measure of its progress.” 30 likes
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