Finished a police-not-quite-procedural/crime thriller novel by Kenyan poet/political essayist Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ
, Nairobi Heat
, published by Penguin's South African division.
This is apparently his first novel and he does a pretty decent job of it. It's fairly short, but compact and rather visceral, with prose like a gut-punch, or maybe a stabbing.
The basic premise is that a young blonde American woman is found mysteriously dead from an apparent overdose on the doorstep of a former-refugee and hero-of-the-Rwandan-genocide-turned-respected-university-professor and what if any connection is there to be found between them? And thus, the detective assigned to this case follows its trail to Nairobi, Kenya, where other former Rwandan genocide refugees have gathered, in search of what seems to be the truth.
In reality, this works out to be kind of a shoot-it-out meditation about the nature of relations between the US and Africa, the difference between available justice for the privileged and the disenfranchised, the outcome of modern media attention focus, and the separate-but-equal tensions between black Africans, black African-Americans, and whites of any background.
Plus it had bonus does-this-remind-you-of-anyone? cameos by some famous (or infamous) Kenyans, such as Patrick Shaw
* and Thomas Cholmondeley
†, descendant of the famous settler Lord Delamere whom you can see in the Out of Africa
It's probably not for everyone, but I rather liked it and would read another by the same author. Though I think I ought to warn for language and violence, since this deals in part with the aftermath of genocide and is set in a considerably more lawless-via-corruption locale than most police procedurals tend to be. But it's not all that much worse than the average HBO show, most likely.
Moderate recommended if you're interested in this kind of grittily contemplative crime thriller or fiction set in Kenya (I picked it up from the library's New Books feature shelf for the latter reason).
* An ex-colonial police officer whom the criminal element of Nairobi lived in fear of for over three decades and would never really discuss. Apparently the first rule of Patrick Shaw is that you do not talk about Patrick Shaw.
† You pronounce it "chumly". And then weep with despair at how messed up the connection between orthography and phonetics is in the English language.
Or more likely, when you realize the man managed to kill two people in less than two years and got out of prison in only eight months for "good behaviour".