Plot: This excellent historical novel offers a vivid, multigenerational portrait of a Kenyan family. With literary prowess and great authenticity, the author explores both the triumphs and challenges faced by individuals who continue to carry the scars of colonialism.
Prose: Despite the author's occasional tendency to focus on minutia, Githaiga's prose is primarily polished, vivid, and engrossing. Readers will recognize that they are in the hands of a master storyteller.
Originality: Githaiga's novel is unique in its focus, breadth, and artful delivery. The historical Kenyan setting is as strikingly well-realized as the streets of modern Chicago.
Character/Execution: From self-possessed, courageous Wambũi to Eileen Atwood, whose idealism in no way compromises her integrity, the characters populating The People of Ostrich Mountain are multidimensional, various, and convincing. The impact of seismic historical and cultural events on central characters, is moving and palpable.
Date Submitted: July 10, 2020
Lyrical, descriptive prose effortlessly draws the reader into the multigenerational drama, which illustrates Kenya’s transition from a British colony to a sovereign nation. The author writes with expert ease about a dark time in Kenyan history when common people were caught in brutal conflicts between the Mau Mau and the British colonial government. Githaiga doesn’t pull his punches when he describes these atrocities, nor when he shows the racist attitudes of the white American doctors at Raymond’s residency program.
Githaiga introduces readers to a bevy of memorable characters that are so skillfully drawn that they effortlessly leap off the page and into readers’ hearts. Chief among them is Wambũi, who exhibits grit, grace and great expectations in a time when many Kenyan teenagers were routinely denied education and married off. Another standout is the dedicated and idealistic Eileen Atwood, who ultimately spends 42 years teaching in Kenya. These characters, teamed with an expertly paced plot, combine to create a rich and evocative story that will make a lasting impression on readers.
Takeaway: Fans of post-colonial literature and multigenerational drama will love this exquisitely written portrait of Kenya as seen through the eyes of unforgettable characters.
Great for fans of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not, Child, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+