Country: Kenya

Why We Love Her: Yvonne is fêted for her reporting, short stories and engrossing novel, Dust. Her short story “Weight of Whispers” won the 2003 Caine Prize For African Writing. This must read tale is from the perspective of a former Rwandan aristocrat fleeing the massacres in 1994 who lands up in Kenya. Another one of her best short stories, “The Knife Grinder’s Tale”, about a tragic murder has been turned into an internationally screened short film.

weightHe spits on my finger, and draws out the ring with his teeth; the ring I have worn for 18 years – from the day I was recognised by the priests as a man and a prince. It was supposed to have been passed on to the son I do not have. The policeman twists my hand this way and that, his tongue caught between his teeth; a study in concentrated avarice.
“Evidence!” – Weight of Whispers, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Her debut novel, Dust, explores some overlapping themes taking on the violence and bloodshed in the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya, a political assassination and how it affects a brother and sister. Yvonne weaves the drama of politics poetically with a tale of love, grief and generational ghosts.



Yesterday was Far Away. Yesterday she discovered that the shadow tendrils wrapped around her body had loosened and she had lost the will to tie herself up in them. – Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor



She was named “Woman of the Year” by Eve Magazine in Kenya in 2004 for her contribution to the country’s literature and arts. And is also a well known activist for cultural and ecological conservation in Kenya.

Soon the wise chose cowardice, a way of life: not hearing, not seeing, never asking, because sound, like dreams, could cause death.  – Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

We await her next offering with anticipation. As she was part of the Pilgrimages project run by The Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists, where 13 African writers were sent to 13 cities for two weeks, it is likely a non-fiction book or travelogue of sorts will arise from that.



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