Mukoma Wa Ngugi



Mukoma Wa Ngugi is Associate Professor of Literatures in English at Cornell University and the author of The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership, the novels Mrs. Shaw, Black Star NairobiNairobi Heat, and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. Unbury Our Dead With Song, a novel about competing Tizita musicians, was released from Cassava Republic Press in May of 2021.

Some of his works have been translated into German, Turkish, and French.  A member of the African Literature Association’s Executive Council, he is the co-founder of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. In 2013, New African magazine named him one of the 100 most Influential Africans. In 2015 he was a juror for the Writivism Short Story Prize and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He co-edited with Prof. Laura Murphy, a Special Issue of New Orleans Review titled The African Literary Hustle. In 2016, he wrote an eight part play radio play, Drugs to Kill, Drug to Cure for Deutsche Welle that was translated into Portuguese, Lingala, Kiswahili, Hausa and  French.

Mukoma holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University and a BA in English and Political Science from Albright College. In 2009, he was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing  and in 2010 for the Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition (Mrs. Shaw). The German translation of Nairobi Heat was named the 2014 Crime Book of the Season by Buchkultur

A former co-editor of Pambazuka News and political columnist for the BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, Mukoma's columns have also appeared in The Guardian, International Herald Tribune,, ChimurengaLos Angeles TimesSouth African Labour BulletinAfrica is a Country,  Daily Nation, and Business Daily Africa. He has been a guest on Democracy Now, NPR, Al Jazeera, Nation TV, and the BBC World Service among others.  

Research Focus

  • African literature
  • Post-colonial literature and theory
  • African poetry
  • African popular literature and film
  • Women and resistance in African literature
  • The black diaspora in Africa
  • Translation and African literature


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