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About Peter Kimani
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Peter Kimani has been nominated for the 2018 Grand Prix des Associations Littéraires, Catégorie Belles-Lettres
Nominated for the 2018/2019 People’s Book Prize
"This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country's colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean--what the Kikuyu called the 'Iron Snake' and the British called the 'Lunatic Express.'"
--New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
"Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple story lines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and distribution of information...Once Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing relaxes, and it's here that you can see his raw talent...I have never read a novel about [Kenya] that's so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly."
--New York Times Book Review
"In his American debut, Kimani illustrates the discordant history of East Indians in Kenya through a fabulously complicated set of intriguing characters and events...Highlighted by its exquisite voice, Kimani's novel is a standout debut."
"Kimani's descriptive and inventive prose recounts personal stories of love and tragedy within a context of racial hierarchies and the fallout of colonial rule...Babu's story feels weighted by history in a way that will remind readers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work...Kimani's complex novel will leave readers questioning the meanings of citizenship and belonging during an era of significant social upheaval in Kenya's history."
"African colonialism is confronted in this subtle, multilayered Kenyan tale...Lyrical and powerful...Kimani weaves together a bitter, hurtful past and hopeful present in this rich tale of Kenyan history and culture, the railroad, and the men and women whose lives it profoundly affected...This is a thoughtful story about a country's imperialist past."
"The characters are human, teaching us that even someone who does wrong is not all bad, and Kimani writes with such vivid detail that one can easily visualize the vast scenery. Reminiscent of Iman Verjee's Who Will Catch Us as We Fall, this novel will appeal to readers of historical and literary fiction."
Set in the shadow of Kenya's independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.
The novel traces the lives and loves of three men--preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim--whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child. Years later, when Babu's grandson Rajan--who ekes out a living by singing Babu's epic tales of the railway's construction--accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men's shared, murky past.
"Nairobi Noir takes readers into the enigmas that haunt Kenya’s most populous city through the deft storytelling of a stellar cast of writers, which includes Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Stanley Gazemba, Makena Onjerika, Troy Onyango, and others.”
--Brittle Paper, One of 50 Notable African Books of 2020
"Nairobi is a city of 3 million souls, so it makes sense as a setting Akashic Books' famed noir series. 14 new stories fill a collection with Nairobi old and new; authors range in age from 24 to 81, and many layers of the city and its complex subcultures will be revealed as the reader makes their way through. Perfect for the armchair traveler!"
--CrimeReads, included in CrimeReads' Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020
"In Nairobi Noir, [Kimani's] assembled a diverse set of Kenyan authors to take a hard look at their city."
--The Big Thrill
"[Nairobi Noir] is a successful collection, which brings together a truly distinct set of new and old voices. Calling Nairobi layered is an understatement, and this collection starts peeling back the surface by attempting to harness the volatile energies of a complicated city that hides more than it reveals."
"Racial, religious, and class divides are acutely observed in the 14 new stories from Kenyan writers...Crime fiction fans will find much to savor."
"The teeming diversity of Nairobi, a metropolis of more than 3 million people, is reflected in this anthology, illustrated by a map of the city that shows a different neighborhood location for each story, the neighborhood's name mischievously overlaying the white silhouette of a corpse. The highlights are as diverse as the city itself."
"A book that leaves an indelible impression on you from just the opening sentences of the very first story."
"These stories take you down into the dark parts of town where you get down and dirty. You meet prejudice, racism, the moneyed and the poor. You meet corrupt police, criminals, and the innocent."
--Journey of a Bookseller
"Kimani is quite a well-known African author, who obviously knows Nairobi intimately, and after I read his story 'Blood Sister,' I realized that he was the perfect person to edit the book."
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.
Brand-new stories by: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Stanley Gazemba, Ngumi Kibera, Peter Kimani, Winfred Kiunga, Kinyanjui Kombani, Caroline Mose, Kevin Mwachiro, Wanjikũ wa Ngũgĩ, Faith Oneya, Makena Onjerika, Troy Onyango, J.E. Sibi-Okumu, and Rasna Warah.
From the introduction by Peter Kimani:
Nairobi Noir is an act of excavation, rediscovering the city's ossified past and infusing life to preserve it for future generations.
Lee Child recruits Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Cara Black, and others to reveal nicotine's scintillating alter egos.
"Typically for Akashic--publisher of the terrific Noir series--the stories approach the subject matter from an impressive number of angles...Akashic has yet to produce a dull anthology, and this one is especially good."
"Sixteen tributes to America's guiltiest pleasure...Even confirmed anti-smokers will find something to savor."
"The most successful entries delve bone-deep into addiction, as characters smoke to smother physical pain, loneliness, and their days...These writers capture the mental gymnastics behind the characters' bad decisions, and the joy such bad decisions can bring."
In recent years, nicotine has become as verboten as many hard drugs. The literary styles in this volume are as varied as the moral quandaries herein, and the authors have successfully unleashed their incandescent imaginations on the subject matter, fashioning an immensely addictive collection.
Featuring brand-new stories by: Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian, Achy Obejas, Michael Imperioli, Hannah Tinti, Ariel Gore, Bernice L. McFadden, Cara Black, Christopher Sorrentino, David L. Ulin, Jerry Stahl, Lauren Sanders, Peter Kimani, and Robert Arellano.
From the introduction by Lee Child:
Food scientists have discovered a complex compound naturally present in, among other things, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The compound offers us a number of benefits: it improves our fine motor skills; it increases our attention spans; it improves our cognitive abilities; it improves our long- and short-term memories; it lessens depression...In and of itself, it has no real downside. It's called nicotine. We should all get some.
The problem is the delivery system...The most efficient way is to burn dried tobacco leaves and inhale the smoke. Ten seconds later, the compound is in your brain, doing good in all its various ways. Unfortunately, the rest of the smoke doesn't do good. And therein lies a great mystery of human behavior. To get the good, we risk the bad. Or we prohibit ourselves the good, for fear of the bad. Which approach makes more sense?