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Extended Audio Sample One Day I Will Write about This Place, by Binyavanga Wainaina Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (280 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Binyavanga Wainaina Narrator: Ivanno Jeremiah Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother’s beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson—all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. 

In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother’s religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. 

Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. 

Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliché, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brimming with insouciant virtuosity…Wainaina’s Africa is not all glamorous poverty and backlit giraffes. It’s an Africa in which the lost are perpetually leading the blind, and yet somehow still find their way home.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[An] astonishing, dreamy memoir…Words quickly become [Wainaina’s] life, especially as he grows up to become one of Africa’s intellectual leaders, but never does he lose that magical, deeply felt sense of language. And as his readers, neither do we.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “A raw, honest piece of memoir…Excruciatingly funny…The book is a meditation on postcolonialism, independence, and national identity, told as they play out in his family and his brain.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “Wainaina is a natural raconteur, and the book is imbued with a spoken word quality…Filled with entertaining detours.”

    Boston Globe

  • “This sublime word-drunk memoir from the Caine Prize–winning author describes a coming-of-age rent by political troubles and suffused by a love affair with language.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Ivanno Jeremiah is the perfect choice for this heartfelt memoir of a boy growing up in Kenya during political and familial turmoil. Jeremiah is a consummate performer whose versatility brings both male and female characters to life.”


  • “Language is clearly the author’s preferred mode of structuring the world, but it is also the plaything he uses with idiosyncratic grace and brilliant immediacy to capture ‘the scattered, shifting sensations’ of memories and emotions long past.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice of 2011
  • An Oprah’s Summer Reading List Selection
  • One of the 2011 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Katie | 2/19/2014

    " Really a 3 star and 5 star book--vibrant and illuminating, it particularly coalesces in the latter half. A little fragmented in the beginning, sometimes specific and sometimes too general. I wanted more from the book, but at the same time enjoyed the uniqueness of Wainaina's voice and would look forward to what he writes next. A book about becoming a writer, as much or more so than it is about a place--though history and politics are tied up in the story as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Allison Long | 2/4/2014

    " I am very glad that I read this book during and after my visit to Kenya. While I found the writing disjointed and sometimes hard to follow, I recognize the author's intent to convey the many-cultured, complicated nature of his home country as well as that of several other African nations. It was the kind of writing that made me expect a horrifically graphic account of a first sexual encounter, but such never materialized, specifically. The whole of the book, rather, was completely visceral and sometimes disturbing in its paranoid descriptions of seemingly ordinary people and events (see cover art for a preview of the book's mood). I most appreciated the political and cultural history imbedded within Wainaina's unique perception of the world around him. I would recommend that Western travelers to Kenya read, if not this book, some work by an African author and not just the guidebooks marketed to us. While simply reading a book can never make one an insider to a culture(s), it lends a less shallow understanding than is offered by documentaries or geo-political summaries. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Teri | 1/15/2014

    " Well...the voice of the author was wonderful. Some of those sentences so full of rich poetry!! I did not have trouble with the beginning of this book but rather the end. My reactions went from loving the language the stuggle, the frustrations, the confusion, to the anger and misery at the end. I have been to Kenya and realize the conflicts in the culture in trying to balance the influence of the colonials not only the english BTW....and the culture of the tribes as they struggle with their growing pains as a country and as individuals. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Michael | 1/13/2014

    " Amazing memoir of the author's life. Told in an unusual (but very memorable and beautiful) fashion. I highly recommend this story of growing up in Kenya and the Congo...and living in South Africa and the United States. Very evocative language and imagery. "

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About the Author

Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of Kwani?, a leading African literary magazine. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing and has written for Vanity Fair, Granta, and the New York Times. He directs the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.

About the Narrator

Ivanno Jeremiah has appeared on such television shows as The Jury II and Injustice. His audiobook narrations include Binyavanga Wainaina’s One Day I Will Write about This Place, among others.