This is a spellbinding state of the nation novel about Kenya, showing how the violence of the past informs the violence and disorder of the present. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's memorable characters; Ajany's mother, deranged with grief and past violations, the Trader, embodying the timeless nomadic traders of Sudan, and Odidi himself, who transcended his past, came to success, and then a tragic end, are enchanting.
Words for Worlds
YVONNE OWUOR Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor is a Kenyan writer, who was named "Woman of the Year" by Eve Magazine in Kenya in 2004 for her contribution to the country's literature and arts. She won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story "Weight of Whispers", which considers an aristocratic Rwandan refugee in Kenya. Born in Nairobi, Owuor studied English at Jomo Kenyatta University, before taking an MA in TV/Video development at Reading University. She has worked as a screenwriter and was the Executive Director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival from 2003 to 2005. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications worldwide including Kwani? and McSweeney’s, and her story "The Knife Grinder’s Tale" was made into a short film in 2005. Her novel "Dust" published in 2014 received widespread critical recommendations as a vivid and often poetic portrayal of the violent history of Kenya in the second half of the 20th century.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
YVONNE ADHIAMBO OWUOR: Live. Why? I must. I must. So much to see, so much to do, so much to learn, so many people to meet. So many sunsets to inhale. What a wild grace and tremendously mysterious gift being [alive].