Book: One Day I Will Write About This Place


One Day I Will Write About This Place, Binyavanga Wainaina (2011)

Inspiration to Read:
I read about this title in a magazine two years ago. I forget what piqued my interest, but I added it to my list of books to read. When I recently became interested in nonfiction writing, Wainaina’s autobiographical book moved to the top of my list.

Wainaina’s writing is like none I’ve ever experienced before. I do not believe it is the most accessible writing because it can be challenging to read at times, but in other moments is wonderfully fluid. Wainaina writes about his life in Kenya with admirable honesty: his doubts, failures, achievements, and successes. He grew up during apartheid and lived to see  Nelson Mandela released from prison and serve as president. Wainaina lived through deep-rooted, tribal racism, and writes about how his understanding of the human experience with race and race relationships developed as he grew older.

I enjoyed the first part of the book best, when Wainaina was young. His language changed to reflect his development throughout the text, and in his youth he uses made-up words to appropriately describe the fantastically sensory childhood he lived. He created words for sounds and smells and whole sentences that I never thought there were words for, but remember–reading through his child’s eye–that I once inhaled and exhaled the world in a similar way. Wainaina recreates these scenes wonderfully and with beautiful language and imagery. Perhaps I was so drawn to Wainaina’s writing in this section that I regretted its absence for the rest of the book.

Wainaina’s writing was  passionate, mostly. He has a love for learning and writing, and discusses this frequently throughout his progression from a child to an adult. Wainaina developed a love for reading early, and often got in trouble with his mother for ignoring his math homework to read more books, and for taking so many books out of the library each month. He is an author writing about his love for writing, and moments in which he describes his drive or passion for writing or his career are common gems thread into the text.

(Please note: I was not paid to write about “One Day I Will Write About This Place.” I obtained the book by my own means and am just a fan.)

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