Why We Love Her: Writers are important but so are the communities that support them and help them flourish, learn and grow. So it’s always heartening to see an author that helps literary communities thrive the way Muthoni does.
She is the author of Halfway Between Nairobi and Dundori which is about love in a time of scarcity – economic, emotional and otherwise. Muthoni is also a notable short story writer with her tales being published in literary journals in Kenya, South Africa, UK and USA. “Tracking the Scent of My Mother”, is one of her most well-known stories and it was shortlisted for the 2006 Caine Prize For African Writing. She is passionate about literacy and is a common visitor to schools and libraries, encouraging and empowering young people to read and write with talks and workshops. She has also written six children books, and one, Kamau’s Finish is a set work for children in the UK and America.
He doesn’t understand that to me Dundori is not a place to grow but a vacuum of a place that sucks the answers out of a father leaving him nothing to offer his children. A rural nowhere so bereft of challenge or entertainment that it thrives on a mother’s cruel testimonies. – Muthoni Garland, Halfway Between Nairobi and Dundori
She is a founding member of Storymoja, a writer’s collective based in Nairobi, Kenya that has a celebrated arts festival every year. Past festivals have included literary figures like Wole Soyinka, Teju Cole, Kofi Awonoor, Harriet Anena and Namwali Serpell, Dami Ajayi. The 2016 festival is being held in Ghana for the first time and is highly anticipated as is Muthoni’s next book.
If reading widely were to become Kenya’s national priority for all children from age one and up, the next generation would wipe out poverty in Kenya. If our own middle classes read one book a month, that would become the national norm. – Muthoni Garland