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Thu, 05 Oct 2017 13:24 - Updated Thu, 05 Oct 2017 13:24

Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o misses out on another Nobel literature prize

Another year of disappointment for the African favourite for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o who has been tipped to win the prestigious prize since 2010.

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The 2017 prize was awarded to British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro for his emotionally impactful novels, the Nobel Foundation announced on Thursday.

He was selected out of the about 350 nominations made by literary experts and former Nobel laureates from around the world.

79-year-old Ngugi published his first book in English in 1964, which is the first by a writer from East Africa. He later changed his language of writing to his native Gikuyu language.

He set up a revolutionary theatre in the 1970s that provoked the authoritarian regime at the time, leading to his arrest and imprisonment for over a year over his 1977 play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want) that bore a political message.

Ngugi continued to write from prison where he wrote his first Gikuyu novel. He later went into exile to the United States after his release and subsequent harassment of his family and loss of his teaching job at Nairobi University.

In the United States, he became a professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at Yale University, New York University and University of California, Irvin where he is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and the Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation.

He has several works including novels – Weep Not, Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat – and plays, short stories, children’s literature, memoirs, essays among others.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the founder and editor of the first Gikuyu-language journal.

If he had won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, he would have been the second African laureate since 1986 when Nigerian writer Professor Wole Soyinka won the prize.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate gets a citation and an 18-carat gold medal that bears the face of the founder Alfred Nobel at an award ceremony on December 10. The prize includes SEK 9,000,000 ($1,110,000) which will be paid next year. Africanews

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