The Perfect Nine
Ngugi wa Thiong'o
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE
A dazzling, genre-defying novel in verse, full of trial and sacrifice, The Perfect Nine is a glorious epic about the founding of Kenya’s Gikuyu people and the ideals of beauty, courage and unity.
‘One of the greatest writers of our time’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Gikuyu and Mumbi settled on the peaceful and bounteous foot of Mount Kenya after fleeing war and hunger. When ninety-nine suitors arrive on their land, seeking to marry their famously beautiful daughters, called The Perfect Nine, the parents ask their daughters to choose for themselves, but to choose wisely.
First the young women must embark on a treacherous quest with the suitors, to find a magical cure for their youngest sister, Warigia, who cannot walk. As they journey up the mountain, the number of suitors diminishes and the sisters put their sharp minds and bold hearts to the test, conquering fear, doubt, hunger and many menacing ogres, as they attempt to return home. But it is perhaps Warigia’s unexpected adventure that will be most challenging of all.
Blending folklore, mythology and allegory, Ngugi wa Thiong’o chronicles the adventures of Gikuyu and Mumbi, and how their brave daughters became the matriarchs of the Gikuyu clans, in stunning verse, with all the epic elements of danger, humour and suspense.
‘A tremendous writer… it’s hard to doubt the power of the written word when you hear the story of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’ Guardian
A vivid, exhilarating tale with a surprisingly modern philosophy that emphasises the importance of tolerance, feminism and respect for the environment -- Anthony Gardner * Mail on Sunday * Seldom have the raw truths of Africa been exposed so vividly, yet humorously. . . With tales that tease, then bite, [Ngugi] tackles the absurdities, injustices and corruption of a continent -- Delia Owens, author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING on MINUTES OF GLORY * New York Times Book Review * In his crowded career and eventful life, Ngugi has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial and linguistic currents * Daily Telegraph * A visionary writer * Financial Times * A tremendous writer... it's hard to doubt the power of the written word when you hear the story of Ngugi wa Thiong'o * Guardian * [The Perfect Nine] departs from the sprawl of his past novels into an engaging if slight lyrical epic. Combining Homeric verse with oral storytelling tropes-choruses, chants, songs-he retells the origin myth of the Gikuyu, Kenya's largest tribe. . . . Thiong'o's fans will appreciate this. * Publishers Weekly * Unfolding in wry and lyrical verse, The Perfect Nine tells a Homeric odyssey of the creation of the entire Gikuyu people-a creationist myth, an adventure tale, and a family story, wherein the wives do not simply wait at home. * Literary Hub * One of the greatest writers of our time -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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