Great African Reads discussion

Petals of Blood
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Contemporary Lit | Books read > Thiong’o: Petals of Blood | (CL) first read: June 2012

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Apologies! It's late in the month. Is anyone reading this: Petals of Blood? I haven't started but I do plan to.


message 2: by Tinea, Nonfiction Logistician (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tinea (pist) | 406 comments Mod
I just started it on a long busride today.


message 3: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
How is it? Is it something I definitely need to make time for in order to concentrate? Or does it suck you in?


message 4: by Tinea, Nonfiction Logistician (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tinea (pist) | 406 comments Mod
Sucks you in-- Ngugi is good & it starts with murder. :)


message 5: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Millicent wrote: "Sucks you in-- Ngugi is good & it starts with murder. :)"

oh good! i can't wait to start.


message 6: by David (new)

David Heyer | 68 comments started it and didn't in translation so in english, have to concentrate hard but starts promising...


message 7: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
this is one of those books that makes me wish i had a ton more knowledge of the bible.


message 8: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Also...anyone with good knowledge of Kenyan history: the beginning of chapter five mentions a Kenyan national of Asian origins who was assassinated. Does anyone know if this something that actually happened/if the person mentioned was an actual person or if this is fictionalized history and included as part of the novel for texture and atmosphere--could have happened, something similar may have happened, for example? Anyone know? From the description in the opening paragraph of chapter five the man assassinated sounds important.


message 9: by Tinea, Nonfiction Logistician (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tinea (pist) | 406 comments Mod
Finished it. Rushing off to work right now but... wow.


message 10: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Millicent wrote: "Finished it. Rushing off to work right now but... wow."

cool.

i had to go on a couple of trips and didn't want to take library books, so this one stayed behind. when i got home, i realized it was due. but luckily i was able to check out a different copy after turning my copy in (no renewals from the library at work). so i will delve back in very, very soon.


message 11: by Wangũi (new) - added it

Wangũi (wakamonji) | 11 comments Marieke wrote: "Also...anyone with good knowledge of Kenyan history: the beginning of chapter five mentions a Kenyan national of Asian origins who was assassinated. Does anyone know if this something that actually..."

I think he is referring to Pio Gama Pinto who was assassinated in 1965... at the same time (I just read that page last night) it seemed (from the MP's internal discourse as well as the time that had seemingly passed) as though there was more time between independence and the assassination. I find PoB is firmly post independence? Maybe I'll go back and check though.
Has anyone finished it already? I'm only barely started but it seems like a book that needs to be read multiple times- and the description of the journey is so far the most beautiful thing I have read from wa Thiong'o.


message 12: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I just finished a couple of days ago. I'm still thinking about lots of things. And yes! I think I need to read this multiple times, especially as I get a better handle on Kenyan history.

I loved the book. And I also thought there was a lot that is quite universal, especially given the political/economic situation these days in the US.


message 13: by Tinea, Nonfiction Logistician (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tinea (pist) | 406 comments Mod
I wrote a short review here. I agree this really wet my appetite for Kenyan history. I read reviews awhile back for the books Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya and Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, both of which I feel would help make sense of the historical allusions I missed throughout. But damn, there was some good commentary on neoliberalism, and the general human condition here too.


Sonja Snow (sonjasnow) | 1 comments A bit late, but I'll post anyway. I just finished. This is a beautifully written book and Ngugi does an excellent job of peeling back the layers of the mystery, revealing the histories and inner lives of the characters piece by piece. I loved how he brings the characters full circle in the end, and even though they've drifted apart, they are reunited through a kind of collective embodiment of Ilmorog's history.

There is so much to say about this novel, but for now I will content myself to think a bit about Wanja, simultaneously the woman who breathes life back into the village, and sews the seeds of its destruction. Of course, it is all of the characters who are responsible for the changes to Ilmorog. I'm trying to figure out what it means that her sexuality is so central to her character and what does it mean that all of the men desire her? After being used by Kimeria early on, which led to estrangement from her family, Wanja learns to use her sexuality as a technique of survival. After her affair with Karega ends and she and Abdullah sell their business, she decides to become a madam, embracing the cynical philosophy, 'Eat or be eaten.' By manipulating the big men's desire for her, she is in a way getting revenge for all of the awful things that have happened to her. As these men are the symbols of state corruption, one could say she is also getting revenge for Ilmorog. At the close of her novel she gets a new beginning, is reunited with her mother and learns that she is finally going to have a child of her own (Abdulla's ?). I'm still trying to process what her fresh start means.

What does it mean for Ilmorog/ Kenya that the three characters associated with corruption are murdered? Is it just an element of the plot of does it hold symbolic weight? And what does it mean that the novel ends with Karega in jail, speaking to the girl who represents the next generation of political activism?


message 15: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Ella, thank you for revitalizing this thread! I'll be back later with some thoughts. I hope others will also chime in. :)


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