Rediscover: Binyavanga Wainaina

Kenyan writer and gay rights activist Binyavanga Wainaina died last week at age 48. After attending college in South Africa, he became a freelance travel and food writer in Cape Town for several years. In 2002, Wainaina's short story "Discovering Home" won the Caine Prize for African Writing, which is sometimes called the African Booker. He used some of the £10,000 prize money to found Kwani?, which has since become a leading literary magazine in sub-Saharan Africa and a major platform for new African writers. In 2006, Wainaina published a satirical essay in Granta called "How to Write About Africa" to widespread acclaim. He also wrote for the New York Times, the Guardian and National Geographic, among other publications.

Wainaina's debut book, One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir, was published in 2011. It chronicles his middle-class childhood in Nairobi, his studies in South Africa, travels around Kenya and his insights on the history and politics of his homeland. In 2014, amid a wave of anti-gay laws passed in Africa, Wainaina released a missing chapter of his memoir called "I am a Homosexual, Mum" and came out on Twitter. On World AIDS Day in 2016, Wainaina announced he was HIV positive. He died of a stroke in Nairobi. One Day I Will Write About This Place is available from Graywolf Press ($16, 9781555976248). --Tobias Mutter

Powered by: Xtenit