Selected Comments on the Wizard of the Crow
Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o “mounts a nuanced
but caustic political and social satire of African corruption of
African society with a touch of magical realism – or, perhaps,
realistic magic, as the Wizard’s tricks hung on holding a
not-so-enchanted mirror to his client’s hidden delusions.
The result is a sometimes lurid, sometimes lyrical reflection on
Africa’s dysfunctions – and its possibilities."
STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly, August, 2006.
"Magic realism drives this mammoth novel set in the imaginary
African country of Aburiria, and exiled Kenyan writer wa Thiong'o
roots the wild fantasy in the brutal horror of contemporary politics.
His ridicule of the powerful knows no bounds as the novel chronicles
greed and corruption in Aburiria and in the West, including the
Global Bank's funding of the Aburirian ruler's Marching to Heaven
Tower of Babel. But even more than the crazy plot of coup, countercoup,
flattery, and betrayal, what holds the reader here is the intimate
story of one couple. Quiet secretary Nyawira, secret leader of the
people's resistance movement, persuades her intellectual lover,
Kamiti, to give up his search for himself in the wild, and they
embark on a plan to change the world, with Kamiti disguised as a
sorcerer. Set off by the global farce, this unforgettable love story
reveals the magic power of the ordinary in people and in politics."
HAZEL ROCHMAN. Booklist. "Ngugi has perfected in Wizard of the Crow an art of radical
simplicity, of sharply defined conflicts that, paradoxically, is
less reductive than ostensibly more nuanced accounts of Africa proffered
by historians and political analysts. At once an epic burlesque
of a sick lumbering state and a praise song to the manifold forms
of African resistance, the phantasmagoric saga of Aburiria is as
clear a view of Africa as we are likely to get for sometime."
JAMES GIBBONS, Bookforum, Summer 2006.
"I have every expectation that his new
novel, Wizard of the Crow, will be seen in years to come as the
equal of Midnight's Children, The Tin Drum or One Hundred Years
of Solitude; a magisterial magic realist account of 20th-century
African history. It is unreservedly a masterpiece." STUART
KELLEY, Scotland on Sunday, August 13, 2006.
“In its best scatological moments, it echoes the great Latin
American novels of dictatorship by Miguel Angel Asturias, Carlos
Fuentes, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez…. It now stands as a vivid
portrait of postcolonialism and the banality of evil.” SIMON
GIKANDI, in a review of the Gikuyu original in Foreign Policy.
"Ngugi writes with bite on contemporary
African themes like corruption and sexual discrimination, but he
isn’t caustic or heavy handed. It’s magical realism
meets Africa, and it hits the mark." FLORENCE WILLIAMS, Outside,
"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 …The tale is fantastic and
didactic, told in broad strokes . . . its principal actors wear
physical distortions like large, firelit masks." JOHN UPDIKE,
The New Yorker, July 31, 2006.
"The pull and promise of Wizard of the
Crow … is evident in the labyrinthine wonders of its opening
chapters, which involve the authors most raucus and ambitious combination
to-date of satire, social realism and supernatural occurrence."
RANDY BOYAGANDA, Harper’s Magazine, September, 2006.
"The effort to throw off the[se] shadow chains of the [colonia]
past while establishing an authentically African continuum has been
at the thematic center of much African literature, but in Ngugi
Wa Thiong'o's epic novel, "Wizard of the Crow," this theme
may well have found its ultimate expression….[I]t is essential
reading for a world that only seems now to be finally waking up
to its own reality, bathed in a vision of ever potential hope."
DAVID HELLMAN, San Francisco Chronicle.
"For all the angry force of Mr. Ngugi's
storytelling, his tale ends on a note of hope and, indeed, happiness.
"Wizard of the Crow" is not a nostalgic celebration of
folk-wizardry, as if quaint belief will solve the troubles brought
on by Africa's encounter with the modern world. It is, though, a
reminder that people can find within themselves redemptive resources."
ROGER KAPLAN, The Wall Street Journal.
"This delirious comedy feeds on itself… At its deepest
level … the novel is really about re-centering the author's
discourse in Africa itself by a radical focus on multiple African
voices. There are many tellers of tales in this saga, and each has
an individual authenticity." KEITH GAREBIAN, Globe and
Mail, August 19, 2006.
“Aburiria is recognisable as Africa
in all its splendour, squalor, economic malaise and venality, but
it comes with more than a touch of magical realism. (...) Despite
the book's faults, it is hard not to be cheered by the spirit of
gentle resistance that is at its core, in defiance of everyday greed."
“Wizard of the Crow is the most ambitious entry
yet from a writer whose output feels essential for those hoping
to understand contemporary Africa." GREGORY MILLER, The
San Diego-Union Tribune, August 6, 2006.
"The shades of humour range from the
caustic when lampooning a corrupt politician to affectionate when
exposing the frailty of ordinary struggling to survive … it
is also a love story that leaves lingering tenderness." RUTH
WILDGUST, Post-IE, The Sunday Business Post.
"Wizard of the Crow … is an impish and hallucinatory
satire on dictatorship — as though Saddam Hussein had won
a coup d’état in Wonderland, then sent Alice and the
rabbit to a Soviet labour camp." Sunday Times (London),
August 26, 2006.
"This novel is restless, epic, allusive.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o gives himself scope to tackle big themes,
to explore the nature of political oppression and corruption. His
book attempts to explode assumptions about the essence of reality.
It blurs and frequently juxtaposes visions of everyday consciousness
and visionary truth… This is a book about choosing sides.
A book above all about the individual's responses to moral dilemmas...
It’s a book of wonderful purple phases (the greatest lyrical
description of making love I have ever read, a marvelous evocation
of wilderness)." TOM ADAIR, The Scotsman, August 12,
"Why should a reader invest in Wizard of the Crow
nearly 800-page bulk? Simply because this novel is a literary masterpiece,
woven in the rich nuance of Africa’s oral tradition, as real
as spilt blood, a mythical dance of great power." SKYE K. MOODY,
The Seattle Times, August 27, 2006.
“ …a compelling novel… a
first class masterpiece.” Aesthetica, Issue 14, 2006
"A remarkable book, sure to be widely read." Kirkus
Reviews, starred review.
"One of the best reads of the year."
Essence, August 2006.