Prize-winning Kenyan Fiction Writer to Give Lecture and Reading Oct. 28 and Nov. 5

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Oct. 20, 2008 — The Kenya writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, will give a reading on Tuesday, Oct. 28, and deliver a lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Both events are scheduled for 5 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3, on the Williams College campus. The events are open to the public and free.

On Oct. 28, Wainaina will read from his forthcoming memoir, “Discovering Home” (2009).

On Nov. 5, he will deliver a lecture titled “Three forked tongues! See how they run!”
The lecture will address narrative permission: cooperation versus violence in Kenyan electoral politics, with a focus on the lives of Kenyans as depicted in Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father, and in his own forthcoming memoir, Discovering Home” (2009).
Wainaina was born in Nakuru, in the Rift Valley province of Kenya and was educated at the University of Transkei in South Africa. He came to the public’s attention in 2002, when his short story also called Discovering Home won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing.

He is the founding editor of the literary magazine Kwani?, a publication that has become a source of inspiration for new writers and the source of new writing from Africa. In recognition of his services to Kenyan Literature, Wainaina received the Kenya Publisher’s Association Award in 2003.

His writings have appeared in The East African, National Geographic, The Sunday Times (South Africa), Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), and Granta Magazine. How to Write about Africa, which appeared in Granta, is widely reprinted, a collection of advice on stereotypes and cliches authors can fall back on when writing about Kenya.

In 2007, the World Economic Forum nominated Wainaina as a “Young Global Leader.” This award is given in recognition of potential to contribute to the shaping the future of the world. Wainaina refused this honor writing that “it would be an act of great fraudulence for me to accept the trite idea that I am going to significantly impact world affairs.”

Wainaina is teaching at Williams College in 2008 and is working on a novel.

The reading is part of the Sterling Brown ’22 lecture series event and the English
Department’s “The Novel in the World” series. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Africana Studies Program and the English department.

For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Public Affairs (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at

Event: Allan Gonzalez