For book lovers that want a taste of Kenyan traditions, experiences and literary aesthetics, here is part 1 of some of the books by Kenyan writers that, in my opinion, will take you through the beautiful journey.

1. Kill Me Quick by Meja Mwangi

It tells of the story of a young Meja who moved from his upcountry home to the cruel city of Nairobi to look for a job but ended up as a street dweller. Since finding a job with a first division school certificate in the city is just an illusion. The very rude ‘Hakuna Kazi’ (There’s No Work) sign in every office he seeks employment frustrates his ego and he has to succumb to the unfairness that is life. This story is as relevant then as it is today. If I go on about this, I’ll kill your curiosity so hurry, get the book!

2. The Cockroach Dance by Meja Mwangi

This book got me laughing quietly to myself in public transport or experiencing hysterical laughter outbursts. The main reason I recommend this book is because of the whimsical dialogue and description that Meja Mwangi employs to tell a story of a man tormented by cockroaches. Also, the character names will get you rolling on the ground. It is a story told in the most amazing satirical tone showing the difference between the high and low social classes in Kenya and the place of the poor in the Kenyan society. I enjoyed reading this book particularly because it relates to the modern day Kenya.

3. Attack of the Shidas AKAs Save Planet Earth by Muthoni Muchemi

This is a Storymoja publication and although it is a children’s book, in my opinion, has a message that every single generation should adhere to. It’s a story of three children whose super powers help unite a divided region. It relates closely to the effects of ethnic battles and conflicts that we experience here in Kenya and through very courageous characters- Tosha, Shana and Pato. In my opinion, this book should be made a must read for all children in every institution. What impressed me the most is how, after every chapter, there are quotes from great philosophers, scientists and also African sayings and proverbs are included. It also has smart questions at the end and they can be used to build a child’s memory. This book preaches peace and unity and parents should get it for their little ones. After reading it themselves of course.

4. Blossoms of the Savanna by H. R Kulet

It’s an intricately written story which is thought provoking as well. It is a story of two sisters who are the victims of conflict between modernity and traditions. It is relevant to almost every Kenyan community.

5. Moran No More by H.R Ole Kulet

I have not yet read this book yet but having read other works of Ole Kulet, I am certain that this is not going to be disappointing.

6. Aminata By Francis Imbuga

Heard of the phrase educate a woman and you’ve educated a generation? This comic play reveals the true meaning of this statement through the character Aminata, a strong willed and benevolent lawyer who defies all stereotypes of the African society that a woman’s space can only be in the kitchen, domestic, and giving birth. It is the strength of the woman that drove me to enjoy this play and also the witty dialogue used.

7. She Ate the Female Cassava by Jimmi Makotsi

This play critically looks at the impact of change in a naïve African setting based on family values, society and the effects of social economic changes on these aspects. The story reveals some elements of change as portrayed by the characters and the interesting dialogue. It is a must read!

8. Walk with me, Angela by Stephen Mugambi

I enjoyed the boldness of the author in describing romance and being a such a shyly viewed topic, got me intrigued. It is probably not the best love story ever told but it is worth a read.

9. The strange Bride by Grace Ogot

This novel is going to capture your attention as you are taken through the beautiful journey to Luo land. There is a mythical affair in this novel and you got to love the rich language employed. It is a narrative and written in a truly African sense with songs and amazing imagery.

10. When the Sun Goes Down and other Stories from Africa and Beyond- By various writer (edited by Emelia Ilieva and Waveney Olembo)

This book contains sixteen beautifully written short stories featuring renowned african writers such as Rydah Jacobs( South Africa), Moses Isegawa( Uganda), Grace Ogot( Kenya), Sefi Atta( Nigeria). The stories here have a modern taste in them, simply executed. ‘Twilight Trek by Sefi Atta was my favorite story. if there is a book everyone should have, it is this one.

14 thoughts on “Must read Kenyan books (fiction) – Part 1

  1. Cockroach dance is one of the most hillarious book i’ve read so far yet as you laugh you cannot ignore the issues raised by the writer
    regarding effects of poverty and joblessness. The satire in the book is just one of a kind

  2. When you don’t read African stories after high school you learn to appreciate them. Thanks for the list. Definitely a must-get

  3. As i went through the list of ‘Must Read Stories’ i realised, being a techer of Literature in kenyan schools, there is a copy of current short stories being tackled by the candidate class. I appreciate your ad and sure enough reading African stories inspires one to be great. In theWhen the Sun Goes Down my favourite story is war of the ears by Moses Isegawa.

  4. We are blessed with a rich variety of great authers just a shame this books are not main stream. To add to the list Siku njema and the river and the source are great reads, educational and inspiring.

  5. Useful, thanks. The best annotated bibliography (with mini-reviews) of Kenyan fiction is at the back of J. Roger Kurtz’s easy-read overview of Kenyan literature, ‘Urban Obsessions, Urban Fears: the Postcolonial Kenyan Novel’. Kibera’s ‘Voices in the Dark’ always merits a mention.

  6. Meja Mwangi’s books are all worth reading, I read his story after long
    time of writing books at it significance of a long journey in
    literature. I like the humor and creativity in this man. He now writes
    scripts in movies and i heard this particular book have it full movie
    if anyone here have it please i can offer anything for that. We have
    been referred as none reading community and if you have to hide anything
    from us put it in books, i call this bullshit if they endorse our
    writer and hire them to teach literature in their university then we are
    better than them. I don’t read those fake books from majuu as it is
    called Africa we are blessed, the more we read the more we can all write
    more books. Have read Aminata, Cockroach dance and i like them so much.

  7. Its a time that all of us should camp into the EA writers world of literature.

  8. There’s also a book based on the colonial times where a white boy befriended an African boy and they do all sorts of mischief together, at one point I think they killed one of the white man’s dog and covered it up and there’s also a time whern the white boy came to visit the black at the village, the whole village came to see a white eating ugali,

    I don’t remember the name of the book but it’s a good read, I’m hoping someone can remind me the name

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