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Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Minutes of Glory

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, although renowned for his novels, memoirs, and plays, honed his craft as a short story writer. From “The Fig Tree” (“Mugumo” in this collection), written in 1960, his first year as an undergraduate at Makerere University College in Uganda, to the playful “The Ghost of Michael Jackson,” written as a professor at the University of California, Irvine, these collected stories reveal a master of the short form.

Covering the period of British colonial rule and resistance in Kenya to the bittersweet experience of independence—and including two stories that have never before been published in the United States— Ngugi’s collection features women fighting for their space in a patriarchal society; big men in their Bentleys who have inherited power from the British; and rebels who still embody the fighting spirit of the downtrodden. One of Ngugi’s most beloved stories, “Minutes of Glory,” tells of Beatrice, a sad but ambitious waitress who fantasizes about being feted and lauded over by the middle-class clientele in the city’s beer halls. Her dream leads her on a witty and heartbreaking adventure.

Published for the first time in America, Minutes of Glory and Other Stories is a major literary event that celebrates the storytelling might of one of Africa’s best-loved writers.