Book Review: Nairobi Heat by Mukoma Wa Nguigi
Name of the book: Nairobi Heat
Author: Mukoma Wa Nguigi
Publisher: Melville International Crime
What's the book about?
A cop from Wisconsin pursues a killer through the terrifying slums of Nairobi and the memories of genocide
IN MADISON, WISCONSIN, it’s a big deal when African peace activist Joshua Hakizimana—who saved hundreds of people from the Rwandan genocide—accepts a position at the university to teach about “genocide and testimony.” Then a young woman is found murdered on his doorstep.
Local police Detective Ishmael—an African-American in an “extremely white” town—suspects the crime is racially motivated; the Ku Klux Klan still holds rallies there, after all. But then he gets a mysterious phone call: “If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.”
It’s the beginning of a journey that will take him to a place still vibrating from the genocide that happened around its borders, where violence is a part of everyday life, where big-oil money rules and where the local cops shoot first and ask questions later—a place, in short, where knowing the truth about history can get you killed.
Why am I reading the book? I met Mukoma Wa Ngugi at the Yardstick Festival and heard him read from Nairobi Heat at one of the afternoon panels. Coming from Miami where crime novels are de rigeur, I thought it was an interesting concept of having an African-American and African cop partnered in Kenya to solve the mystery of a dead blonde girl found on the doorsteps of a renowned African peace activist who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. I read Nairobi Heat the next day. I was not disappointed.
Quote from the book: "Were we manipulating race? The calculation was simple: one million lives did not move the world, African countries included, to intervene, but the death of one beautiful blonde girll would. We did not create that equation--we found it as it was. And we would use it to get justice."
Where to buy: http://www.amazon.com/Nairobi-Heat-Melville-International-Crime/dp/1935554646
Novelist, poet, and literary scholar, Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Black Star Nairobi (Melville, 2013), Nairobi Heat (Penguin, SA 2009, Melville House Publishing, 2011), an anthology of poetry titled Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006) and is a columnist for Ebony.com and a regular contributor to Kenya Yetu Magazine. He was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009. In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition. Mukoma holds a PHD in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University and a BA in English and Political Science from Albright College. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University.
I've modified this format from One Minute Book Reviews: http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/