I’m really glad to announce that the Litblog Co-op’s latest Read This! selection is a book I like a lot, The Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. The first thing you should know about this book is that it’s very funny, and that it reads much faster than its 750-plus page size would suggest. When I first picked it up I considered it doubtful I’d persevere, but an anecdote in the first section (the ruler of an African country locks his complaining wife forever in a sealed house where the clocks still tick but the clock’s hands don’t move) grabbed me and started shaking me around, and it quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to be reading anything else until I found my way to the other end of this book.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a deeply political Kenyan writer who was persecuted for years for loudly mocking the greedy dictatorship of tyrant Daniel arap Moi, and it’s the memory of this larger-than-life figure that animates the epic Wizard of the Crow. A team of pranksters — the eponymous crow and his very enterprising lover and partner in crime — shadows, protests and defeats the tyrant’s reign, but the battle between good and evil is a deadlock at best. Like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, this book pounds its targets into the ground but gives each character their measure of humanity. I daresay I enjoyed Thiong’o’s book as much as either Heller’s book or Vonnegut’s, and that says a lot. I believe Wizard of the Crow to be a true future classic, and I hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t already.
There will be more discussion of this book (and hopefully an author interview) at the Litblog Co-Op Site in two weeks. We’re also going to be talking about two other nominees, Seven Loves by Valerie Trueblood and Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones.