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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa Beats Kenyan Ngugi Wathiong’o to Nobel Prize

Celebrated Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o has narrowly missed a chance to become the fifth African writer to win Nobel Prize for Literature. Peruvian writer, politician, essayist and journalist Mario Vargas Llosa has been declared the 2010 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, beating Ngugi and a strong field of contestants that included US novelist Cormac McCarthy, Japanese writer Haruki Marukami and Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

A Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright, Ngugi published his first novel, Weep Not, Child, in 1964, the first major novel in English by an East African. Over the years, he has continued to entertain his readers with his thought-provoking works that have seen him rank as one of the best post-independence African writers.

Ngugi Wathiong'o is one of Kenya's and Africa's best authors
The Nobel Committee awarded Vagas the prize "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat", in an event that was held in the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. 

Had Ngugi scooped the award, he could have become only the fifth African to win the Nobel Prize for literature, and only the second Kenyan Nobel Prize winner after environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai was coveted with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

Famous Nigerian playwright and dramatist, Wole Soyinka, was the first African Nobel Prize in Literature laureate when he was awarded the prize in 1986. Two years later in 1988, Egyptian born writer Naguib Mahfouz was awarded, before South Africa’s Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee won the award in 1991 and 2003 respectively.

Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka still remains the only black African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Algeria-born Albert Camus was the first African-born Nobel winner for literature in 1955 though he did not win the award as an African. At only 44, Camus was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, after British author Rudyard Kipling who was 41.

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded 103 times to 107 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2010.

Ngugi had emerged as bookmakers' favourite to win the 2010 award.

Currently, he is a Distinguished Professor of the Departments of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine. He was born in Kamiriithu village in Central Kenya in 1938, grew up during the second world war and was caught up in the Mau Mau uprising as a teenager. He received a B.A. in English from Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, in 1963.

While Ngugi was in Britain for the launch of the novel, he learned about a plot to eliminate him by Moi’s regime on his return. This forced him into exile and he only returned to Kenya in 2004 after twenty-two years absence. 

Nobel Literature Prize: The ten past winners
2010: Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
2009: Herta Mueller (Germany)
2008: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (France)
2007: Doris Lessing (Britain)
2006: Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
2005: Harold Pinter (United Kingdom)
2004: Elfriede Jelinek (Austria)
2003: John M. Coetzee (South Africa)
2002: Imre Kertész (Hungary)
2001: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (United Kingdom)

Selected works by Ngugi Wathiong’o:
  • The Black Hermit, 1963 (play)
  • Weep Not, Child, 1964
  • The River Between, 1965
  • A Grain of Wheat, 1967 - Nisun jyvä (trans. by Seppo Loponen)
  • This Time Tomorrow 1970
  • Homecoming: Essays on African and Caribbean Literature, Culture, and Politics, 1972
  • Secret Lives, and Other Stories, 1976
  • The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, 1976 (with Micere Githae Mugo)
  • Ngaahika ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), 1977 (play; with Ngugi wa Mirii)
  • Petals of Blood, 1977
  • Caitaani mutharaba-Ini (Devil on the Cross), 1980 - Paholainen ristillä (trans. by Mika Tiirinen)
  • Writers in Politics: Essays, 1981
  • Education for a National Culture, 1981
  • Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary, 1981
  • Barrel of a Pen: Resistance to Repression in Neo-Colonial Kenya, 1983
  • Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, 1986
  • Mother, Sing For Me, 1986
  • Njamba Nene and the Flying Bus (Njamba Nene na Mbaathi i Malhagu), 1986 (children's book)
  • Matigari ma Njiruungi, 1987 - Matigari, (translated into English by Wangui wa Goro)
  • Njamba Nene and the Cruel Chif (Njamba Nene na Chibu King'ang'i), 1988 (children's book)
  • Njamba Nene's Pistol (Bathitoora ya Njamba Nene), 1990 (children's book)
  • Moving the Centre: The Struggle for Cultural Freedom, 1993
  • Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams: The Performance on Literature and Power in Post-Colonial Africa, 1998
  • Wizard of the Crow: A novel, 2006 - Variksen velho (trans. by Seppo Loponen)
 And That's thesteifmastertake!!