Weep Not, Child

ISBN: 0435908308
ISBN 13: 9780435908300
By: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

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Africa African African Literature Currently Reading Fiction Historical Fiction Kenya Novel School To Read

About this book

Tells the moving story about the effects of the Mau Mau war on the lives of ordinary men and women in Kenya. In the forests, the Mau Mau are waging war against the white government, and two brothers, Kamau and Njoroge, and the rest of the family must decide where their loyalties lie.

Reader's Thoughts


Read as an undergrad... I remember that it was moving but I don't remember much of the plot.

Joel Simon

"Weep Not, Child," tells the story of a family torn apart by the start of the nationalist revolt against colonial rule in Kenya. It was the first English novel published by an East African and, consequently, is worth reading. It is the first novel by the author (written in 1964), who has recieved a number of honors and is currently a professor of literature at the University of California (Irvine). The story follows the lives of several brothers, and one in particular (Njoroge) who is the youngest and is given the opportunity to attend school (being the first in his family to do so). His father, a strong, traditional African man, is brought into the center of conflict when the people of his village are faced with deciding whether to challenge the white-dominated government by agreeing to a general strike, or to back down and live with the status quo. The book moves at a decent pace and has a few very exciting episodes. Several of the characters are well-developed, but others that I wished to know more about, were not. I picked this book up on a trip to South Africa, where I always find myself in a bookshop looking for books to give me different perspectives on Africa. I recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about Kenya's break with its colonial past through accessible literature.


In this short, sweet novel, African writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o uses short, direct sentences throughout most of the text. It is clear and concise. I sometimes think I could use a bit more condensing in my own writing. This story makes heavy use of symbolism, as well. Two of the main symbols are the tree and the hill. The motif of light and darkness is also used frequently to make connections with good and evil.


I actually started this just before NCTE last November, got to page 26, and then was so enraptured by new ARCs that I didn't finish. I picked it back up after finishing Better Living Through Plastic Explosives because I felt like it would be a good antiestablishmentarian fit. It was. However, it had some serious pacing problems. I can rationalize that the problems come from an attempt to make the flow of the book feel like the flow of time did for the characters, but I just didn't like that the beginning of the book is so slow and the end is breakneck.I'm still going with 4 stars because the language was poetically beautiful and the writing itself is so important, but it didn't feel as much like a "Masterpiece" (quote from the front cover of my copy) as I wanted it to.

Ms Sweetish Tema

I'm having an exam on this book today, the 10th; and I wanted to drop by as to give my feedback. The reviews written are worth admiring, each has expressed their point of view according to their different perceptions to the novel. I have one little thing to point out, and I dearly hope some of you would take it into consideration. The book and the story is one of Ngugi's earliest attempts and writings, thus if reflects a kind of immaturity when putting the events together. It's mainly why some of you think it could have been better or more perfect. I personally believe that regarding to his age and surroundings at the that time, Ngugi has done a marvellous work and managed to lay down his novel in a brilliant way.


My review is based on this specific edition. This version of the book by MacMillan readers is meant for English language learners, so it is abridged and includes a note on the historical background, a character guide, illustrations, reading questions and a glossary separated by each book's thematic section (ex: first one is "light and darkness"). The thematic approach for the glossary serves two purposes: it helps identify Thiong'o's literary device for a higher-level read, and it helps encourage understanding of specific vocabulary at the highest/"upper" level of the readers series. A reader working in a class or independently can sense growth in literacy based on her/his understanding of these terms. Except for the illustrations, the set of extras are all useful additions; however, I felt that the abridged text did detract from the story. The reader sees moments of pain and conflict, courage and doubt--but often the action moves too quickly. I felt I did not know the characters well enough. Perhaps the extras could be paired with the original, unabridged text for use in schools.

Kemi looves 2 read

It's all coming back to me now - the authours I had to read for African literature - Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo etc. There is a South African authour that I can't remember for the life of me..........

Michael Lundie

A tragic and engrossing tale, but also valuable as a tool for the student of Kenyan history. Thiong'o trains his lenses on the Mau Mau uprising, both the political and social injustices that brought it about and the calamities as well as uncertainties it left in its wake. I was left with an impression that the protagonist Njoroge's hopeful ascent to a life of significance followed by a blistering decline into desolation and complacence mirrors the author's sentiments about post-colonial Kenya's political and social state - so much hope, ending in arrested development.


This is probably the most poignant story I've read since Mila 18.The simplistic style in which the story is written (which I'm sure the modern reader will find boring) is largely due, I believe, to two factors; first, it is styled on the 19th century form of the novel and second, it was written when the author was 24yrs old- his first real foray into the world of writing prose. However these only add some level of authenticity to the tale as it is told from the perspective of a child.A tale worth reading.


I read this book as a child growing up in Liberia, West Africa. I remember loving the language and the rich culture that very similar to my own. I look forward to reading it again as an adult and growing a deeper appreciation for it.

Danielle W

Thiong'o nimbly weaves fiction with historical fact to create an honest summation of life in Kenya mid-20th century. I found myself wondering while reading, how does one encourage a potential audience to come to grips with this history? Thiong'o carefully crafts the narrator's voice so as to ensure the story was and continues to be heard. This novel is disturbing but important - it will make your bones ache for fairness and your heart wrench for justice.

Andrew Ssempala

The most successful novel from East Africa by the mosr prolific writer in that region of the continent. This is the story of the little boy Njoroge whose eventual ambitions were arrested by the outbreak of the Mau Mau rebellion in colonial Kenya. Ngugi wrote the story during his days as a student at Makerere University in Uganda. A book no literate African must do without in his library.


Ok I read this when all that political strife was going down in Kenya, and thousands of people had died. I learned that intergenerational conversations must intentionally happen, otherwise we tend to waste a lot time repeating the same old mistakes and fostering a lot of hate, angst, confusion and disappointment towards our elders and amongst ourselves in the process. Also...colonialism sucks...more bad than good came out of it...and you can challenge me on that.


The writing style is simple, and Thiong'o is a good storyteller. That said, it seemed disconnected at times and huge gaps occur that you have to fill in yourself. I was hoping to get a bit more information about Kenyan culture from this, but it didn't seem to be what I was hoping for.

Melissa Tabak

This novel made me cry. It is both a coming age story as well as a story of the Mau Mau rebellion. It explores themes of colonialism, what it means to be African, and many other compelling elements. This is one if my favorite novels.

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