Dance of the Jakaranda

Dance of the Jakaranda This funny perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the bui

  • Title: Dance of the Jakaranda
  • Author: Peter Kimani
  • ISBN: 9781617754968
  • Page: 280
  • Format: Paperback
  • This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean what the Kikuyu called the Iron Snake and the British called the Lunatic Express New York Times Book R This funny, perceptive and ambitious work of historical fiction by a Kenyan poet and novelist explores his country s colonial past and its legacy through the stories of three men involved with the building of a railroad linking Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean what the Kikuyu called the Iron Snake and the British called the Lunatic Express New York Times Book Review, Editors Choice Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple story lines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and distribution of informationOnce Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing relaxes, and it s here that you can see his raw talentI have never read a novel about Kenya that s so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly New York Times Book Review Destined to become one of the greatsThis is not hyperbole it s a masterpiece The Gazette A multi racial nation building tale that begins during the construction of the railway from Mombasa to Nairobi There are three men at its heart two white, a British administrator known as Master and an Anglican minister one brown, an Indian technician who sires a male child, a birth that will reverberate down through the years Toronto Star A fascinating part of Kenya s history, real and imagined, is revealed and reclaimed by one of its own Minneapolis Star Tribune But the novel has way strengths than I can describe here, including the beauty of lyrical narration that combines irony, flashback, humour, allusions and inter textual references, all of which are expertly manipulated to give the reader a gem of a story populated by composite characters, a story that, though revisiting old themes and times, does so with the freshness that one would expect of established literary geniuses Daily Nation The author has built here not only, on these pages, not only a railroad, but the singular triumph of a highly diverting novel Besides weaving an excellent plot line, he offers the reader a classic, understated writing style that haunts much of this book, turns it into a minor masterpiece RALPH Magazine, Starred review Peter Kimani, an acclaimed writer and poet, has brilliantly constructed this novel s plot His lyrical prose, such as portraying the train as a massive snakelike creature, and his breathtaking descriptions of God s country bring the beauty of the land before our eyes Historical Novels ReviewSet in the shadow of Kenya s independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.The novel traces the lives and loves of three men preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child Years later, when Babu s grandson Rajan who ekes out a living by singing Babu s epic tales of the railway s construction accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men s shared, murky past.With its riveting multiracial, multicultural cast and diverse literary allusions, Dance of the Jakaranda could well be a story of globalization Yet the novel is firmly anchored in the African oral storytelling tradition, its language a dreamy, exalted, and earthy mix that creates new thresholds of identity, providing a fresh metaphor for race in contemporary Africa.

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    1. Peter Kimani Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Dance of the Jakaranda book, this is one of the most wanted Peter Kimani author readers around the world.

    One thought on “Dance of the Jakaranda

    1. A frustrating read that missed the mark in every possible way for me This take on colonial and post colonial Kenya should have been riveting but the characters were too cartoonish and the scenes too sketchy to really capture my attention The satire didn t work for me either There are limp forays into Midnights Children Land whimsy for instance Babu s comically high forehead makes a repetitive motif not unlike Saleem Sinai s memorable nose but they don t easily relate to a greater theme and so fe [...]

    2. In 1901, a train chugs along Kenya s Rift Valley on the newly laid tracks from Mombasa to Port Victoria Seated in the first class cabin, conversing amiably, are Ian McDonald Master , the railway superintendent, and Reverend Turnbull As the train passes through a township, Master recalls that this was where they d left their technician Babu, the Indian f bastard, and Turnbull acknowledges that he is now raising that man s allegedly illegitimate daughter Master receives land near Lake Nakuru and b [...]

    3. This story is extraordinarily well crafted It s like a spiral whose circles wind tightly from the previous circle, coming back to pick up a piece of the narrative then moving onward before winding back again.The Dance of the Jakaranda is the dance of the people who come to the British East Africa Protectorate to build a railroad, and their interaction with the people who already inhabit the land The stories of the characters, British, Indian and African, intertwine in unexpected ways It takes tw [...]

    4. This book tells something of the history of the land that was to become Kenya and how that country came to gain its independence from Great Britain It is historical fiction laced with cultural insight into the three societies that struggled with each other and finally combined to form something new and unique We have the native African culture, the English culture, and the Indian culture Each in its own way contributed to the making of Kenya.This is also the story of three men and how their pers [...]

    5. This had so much potential but ended up really confusing It might just be because I read it over a much longer time period than usual, but I lost track of the stories and the time periods all too often I really valued the glimpse of historical Kenya and race relations.

    6. Most great novels center around an engaging narrative that works on one, maybe two levels But in a true master work, on par with say Shakespeare or Marquez, the narrative works on multiple levels emotional, political, familial, spiritual If executed and executed well the resulting work will last generations and resonate with readers across the globe.A tall order to be sure But author Peter Kimani does just that in his American debut, Dance of the Jakaranda This is not hyperbole it s a masterpiec [...]

    7. The thing I hate about listening on Audible on my phone, is that the slightest mis touch and you land somewhere you already were , or somewhere still to come grr.Yet in spite of that, this was such a fascinating book, the story is so multi dimensional The writer sets us before a complex historical backdrop, complete with all the sub divides of cultures, wars, colonialism, racial divides, and religious conflicts, and then he sets the stage with characters also so complex with their individual his [...]

    8. Gorgeously written and splendidly read, this debut historical novel should have worked better for me, and the fault is probably mine I might have enjoyed it and become immersed in story and characters had I read it all at once, rather than in bits and pieces over about a month That said, it is an interesting look at Kenyan history and independence, the role played by Indians over the past century, and the fall of British colonialism there Kimani personalizes the conflicts primarily through the [...]

    9. Interesting story but the flowery language was time consuming to wade through I wanted of the story and the people All came together at the end which was nicely woven through historical pieces.

    10. I admit it I had no idea of Kenya s complicated history until I read this book, which tells us the story of Britain s violent colonization of the area and the subsequent fight for Kenyan independence.Kimani holds nothing back as he tells his story, primarily through three protagonists The African tribes won t cooperate with the superior white men to destroy their beautiful country No problem Bring in 30,000 people from the Indian subcontinent to do the work Treat them only slightly better than t [...]

    11. A compelling story of colonial Kenya from the end of the 19th century to the 1960s and Independence Centering around the 600 mile train line linking Lake Victoria to the Indian Ocean at Mombasa, we are given a powerful social, political, familial, and cultural critique of the English, African and Indian agents at work The parallel story of Rajan and Miriam would have worked better for me if it had occurred in the chronological telling of the story Separating it added no value for me.

    12. A well told and crafted historical novel with a dose of humor This novel bounces around in time, using a few narrative techniques which makes this a pleasant and enjoyable dance Essentially the novel is rooted in the lives of three main characters, Ian McDonald the colonial master administrator, Richard Turnbull, the Christian missionary preacher and Babu the Indian surveyor Each of their stories unfold from 1900 to 1963 in Kenya as their lives intersect as all three are in Kenya to play a role [...]

    13. Three and a half stars.In Dance of the Jakaranda, Peter Kimani tells the story of three men who were involved with the building of the railway across Kenya in the early 1900s One is the former British army officer leading the construction project, one is a missionary and the third is an Indian laborer The story is told over a span of almost 70 years as these men interact from the days of the railway to Kenyan independence in 1963 Along the way, we see the weaknesses of these men play out, each i [...]

    14. Although there are a few section where the author clearly brings to light the experience of indentured labor and the role of the British in building the railway in Kenya, the majority of the book is not worth the read The characters did not have depth, and often resorted to unnatural dialog and verbalizing their emotions in order to carry forward the plot It seems like the author might be trying to be funny, ironic, or satirical at points, but it comes off as poorly written.One thing that bother [...]

    15. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and I have pretty mixed feelings about it Overall I enjoyed reading it and I found the characters to be compelling, but I found the plot and writing style to be a bit convoluted The story jumped back and forth in time in a way that felt a bit choppy to me, and a little hard to follow I appreciated the way that the author dealt with some difficult themes and I felt that the characters were well developed I m glad I read it and I would recommend it [...]

    16. Dance of the Jakaranda is a beautifully written book Kimani s prose is among literature s best, and the novel provides a compelling picture of colonial and postcolonial life for Indians, Africans, and Europeans living in Kenya The book captured my attention immediately and held it to the end, and even though it s fiction, it should be of serious interest to historians and non fiction readers, as well.

    17. I received an ARC of this novel from Eidelweiss, and I really wanted to like it, but I couldn t get into it I feel bad about being the only rating on this page, but this book was like pulling teeth for me to read.

    18. Dance of the Jakaranda, by Peter Kimani, looks at one hundred years of Kenyan social history through the eyes of three immigrants and their descendants, whose lives intersect during the building of a railway from Mombasa to Lake Victoria Ian Edward McDonald, an ex military man, is tasked with overseeing the laying of five hundred miles of track through the hinterlands of what was then called the British East Africa Protectorate Reverend Richard Turnbull is a missionary who befriends McDonald in [...]

    19. Dance of the Jakaranda, by Peter Kimani is an expansive tale of colonial and independence era Kenya that effortlessly blends multiple narrative threads crossing decades and generations Each of the characters and stories is fascinating in their own right, aside from unraveling the mystery of how they intersect The storylines are woven together seamlessly, and jump back and forward in time organically, with the construction of the plot never feeling formulaic or contrived.At the heart of the story [...]

    20. It took me a while to get absorbed by the book The story weaves back and forth between the main characters Turnbull, McDonald and most of all Babu as they are all involved in building the railway The plot was cleverly constructed and full of sly irony and humour as well as tragedy about how badly the Africans and Indian workers were treated in the building of the railway As a Kenyan I knew much of the history involved but I was trying to work out who the charcacters were based on but gave up as [...]

    21. I am betwixt and between as regards how I feel about this book One of the reviews I read promised a story in the tradition of African story telling Well, that confused me some, as I am not sure what AFRICAN story telling tradition is Folk tales Collected stories from the many and varied countries in Africa A modern reworking of ancient themes Whatever.I both liked and didn t like this book See betwixt and between Three stories are interwoven Time is fluid the author moves you back and forth in d [...]

    22. Set in Kenya, the story revolves around the lives of the people affected by the building of the railroad by the British The Brits brought the workers from the colonies, bringing white, black and brown people together, as they ravaged the land to build the railroad, all for their benefit The narrative is beautiful, the story touching I had the privilege to listen to the author, Peter Kimani talk about his book at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

    23. Fascinating story that traces Kenyan history thru the intersecting lives of two British colonists and an Indian immigrant It is a multicultural, multiracial story on many levels, tracing the exploitation of Kenya thru colonialism to black independence while personifying that evolution thru the lives and generations of the three men Impressive note gleaned from the acknowledgements The author s teacher and mentor is Ngugi wa Thiong o, a brilliant and talented Kenyan writer.

    24. The book has a somewhat complex, interesting set of story lines about several characters whose connections to one another are revealed over the course of the entire book I was engaged throughout, although I was a little disappointed with the ending.This is a good way for someone like me who likes some history with my novels to get a better understanding of the evolution of Kenya from British colonial rule to independence.

    25. I received a copy of this book through a Giveaway It took me quite a while to get through this book as I was trying to digest it It was beautifully written, but it was hard for me to keep track of what was happening By the end, I was thoroughly confused That being said, I probably will read it again in hopes of understanding the second time around.

    26. Well I tried to get through it, but as is sometimes the case with stories by foreign writers, I am not much interested in the story The book is well written and if you are interested in the history of colonial East Africa particularly as it relates to the Indian laborers brought in to build the railroad, you may find it rewarding.

    27. A wonderfully written and enjoyable book The story is amusing, complex and becomes compelling as it progresses One might say that it s sum is than it s characters because, as all really good writers do, Kimani addresses large swathes of life and it s meanings.I received this book compliments of Akashic Books through the First Reads program This is my honest opinion.

    28. What a look into the building of this railroad I knew nothing about this so it was a great peak into this time period and country Loved the writing great storyteller And now I want to learn about the history.

    29. Weather reading this book for the history of the story within the hisrtoryThis is what an historical novel should be Relating true history and making it real to the reader through the story.

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