Is Meja Mwangi’s Going Down River Road, The Great Kenyan Novel

By Silas Nyanchwani

Published on 28/08/2023

If we were to have The Great Kenyan Novel, what would it be? What Kenyan novel truly captures the essence of being Kenyan? I can think of a few.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

1. Weep Not, Child

2. A Grain of Wheat(a personal favourite)

3. Petals of Blood

Meja Mwangi

4. Going Down River Road(my choice for the Great Kenyan Novel)

5. Cockroach Dance

Yvonne Adhiambo Awuor

6. Dust

Margaret Ogola

7. The River and The Source(anti-male Novel full of misandry, but highly loved)

Mwangi Gicheru

8. Across The Bridge (I think we never acknowledged Mwangi Gicheru enough)

Grace Ogot

9. Promised Land

Charles Mangua

10. Son of a Woman

Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye

11. Coming to Birth (Great contender alongside Going Down Riverroad)

Tony Mochama

2063: Last Mile Project

This Sci-fi Novel is sat on, yet it has a unique potential to be a big hitter.

I have not read many recent Kenyan novels from award-winning writers such as Makena Onjerika and Okwiri Oduor. I should. And those who have read are free to include them.

A Kenyan Novel has to speak about Kenya, our uniqueness, our identity, and something that has a sense of permanence. Like if someone read the book in 2069, it would still make sense.

If we were to vote for one or two, what would that Novel be?

Here we need to put personal biases aside. The writer you love the most may not necessarily be the one who writes the Great Kenyan Novel.

My personal selection would be:

1. A Grain of Wheat

2. Going Down River Road

3. Dust

4. Coming to Birth.

What is your vote and why?

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