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Coming to Birth

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In this quietly powerful and eminently readable novel, winner of the prestigious Sinclair Prize, Kenyan writer Marjorie Macgoye deftly interweaves the story of one young woman’s tumultuous coming of age with the history of a nation emerging from colonialism.

At the age of sixteen, Paulina leaves her small village in western Kenya to join her new husband, Martin, in the bust
Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published July 6th 1987)
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Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nan by: Dr. Jeffry Berry
I read this book in one of my African Lit classes during my undergrad years, and I've never forgotten it. It is the sad & beautiful story of Paulina, whose volatile marriage and family life mirrors the political landscape of Kenya.

This is one of the few truly perfect books I've ever read.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who I like a good story- a hopeful story.
Recommended to Wangũi by: Had to do it in school as a setbook.
Most people in my year hated this book and the fact that they had to read it....but they had to....and I loved it! I love the faction(fact + fiction) of it. I love the story of the woman moving to a town, she only knows Luo but she's determined to make a way: she learns Kiswahili, the national language, bit by bit; she learns how to spend money wisely; she learns how to survive in Nairobi in the middle of the emergency- but that's just at the start. Her story is interwoven wihthe story of anothe ...more
Karen Ashmore
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Story of a Kenyan woman's transformation from dependence to independence that coincides with her country's move to independence. Her single independence is lauded until the end when it indicates she is not totally complete until she has a child. It ends with her pregnancy. A seeming contradiction. Why is she not complete as an independent woman in her own right? ...more
Felix Pilipili
Dec 13, 2012 marked it as to-read
A inspiring and interesting book.It still remains in my memories,since I read it in my High School.I like the author's mode of presentation and they styles employed which are quite appealing to the reader.The flow of ideas is also logical and quite systematic.I salute her for good work. ...more
Chepkorir Kitur
 Aggrey Odera
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful jaunt into my early teen years. I remember, months after reading her book, being so wonderfully enthralled when I learned that Macgoye was a white British woman who'd married a Luo man - it didn't seem so at all from the book; I'd always thought she was straight up Luo. She'd so wonderfully inhabited what I could recognize as a common Luo experience during the 60s and 70s - even 80s (from talking with my grandparents' and my dad's older siblings, who'd themselves made the migra ...more
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of those high school setbooks that, for some reason, I didn't read. With her poetic, flowery prose, Marjorie offers a refreshing perspective of what living in Nairobi immediately before and after Kenya's independence. She does this through stories of Paulina, the protagonist, Martin, rural folk and urban women (mostly), and a member of parliament.

If you are wondering what it felt like, smelt like, or tasted like to live in Nairobi at this historical period, and especially through the eyes o
Davis Kimeu
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
And another thing Paulina, you have dressed to kill. I read this book in high-school. It was very interesting. Despite being a British author married to a Kenyan Luo man, Marjorie managed to present it as if she was a Kenyan native.
Rotich Michael
May 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
How do i read this book
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good African novel. Great piece of literature.
Walter Ogwai
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My High school was never a lie.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
A young woman comes of age during late colonial and early independence Kenya. The novel reads on several levels but isespecially interesting from a political historical perspective. Appreciation requires some prior knowledge of events of that period in modern Kenyan history.
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although only about 150 pages, this short novel spans a twenty-year period in the life of a young Kenyan woman, whom we first meet when she comes to Nairobi at the age of 16 to stay with her new husband in a cramped barrack-like room. Paulina gains independence over time, her personal development taking place against a backdrop of Kenyan independence, political violence, and development of the new nation. It had the arc of a full novel despite its brevity. I see that a more recent edition includ ...more
African Literature
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Coming to Birth is a novel written by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, and was first published in 1986. Marjorie moved and settled in Kenya during her early adulthood years. She was quickly integrated into the Luo culture, which is part of the larger African culture. She learnt the way of life, traditions, and customs of the Luo community in the course of her marriage to D. G. W. Macgoye – her husband. The novel gives the clear indication of detailed experiences in the Luo culture and traditions. Full R ...more
Susan Frazier-Kouassi
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I kept struggling with this book trying to hear the authentic voice of Paulina. I think what I understand my struggle when I realized that the book was written by a British-born transplant to Kenya. It all made sense then...the lack of authenticity.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
one of the nice and engaging novel which reflect the life of a born country grappling with neo-colonialism, bad leadership, political instability amon others
Asha Mohammed
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Oct 06, 2012
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Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (1928 – 30 November 2015) was an English/Kenyan novelist, essayist and poet.

Born Marjorie King in 1928 in Southampton, England, and died on 1st December 2015 in Kenya[.] Marjorie travelled to Kenya to work as a missionary in 1954. She worked at the S.J. Moore Bookshop on Government Road, now Moi Avenue in Nairobi, for some years. There she organised readings which were atte

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