[This blog also appears in http://www.homeslicemag.com]
The most important deal a business person will ever close is her first no matter whether you’re a shopkeeper, a restaurant, or in the business of publishing, book and author development such as me. My firm is called Adero’s Literary Tribe/ALT, launched this Summer. Our first accomplishment is a publication deal for Peter Kimani, a well known journalist and writer in Kenya, with —one of the most respected and dynamic publishers in the industry today, Akashic, led by Johnny Temple, who negotiated the deal.
Peter Kimani, has published two novels, Before the Rooster Crows and a children’s novel, Upside Down, the later published by Oxford University Press. He is not yet known a in the United States, but did some of his studies here. He earned a Ph.D from the University of Houston’s nationally recognized Creative Writing Program. Among his teachers and supporters of his work are Mat Johnson with whom he worked at the University. Among champion of Kimani’s work is the great Ngugi wa Thiongo, who believes the writer is breaking new ground with his approach to using history as a metaphor in contemporary writing.
An alumnus of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, Peter was one of only three international poets commissioned by the National Public Radio to compose and present poems to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. He has worked as a writer, critic and columnist on Kenya’s vibrant national press, rising to senior editorial positions. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, The New African, and Sky News of London, among others.
Peter is presently a training consultant and newspaper columnist in Nairobi, where he lives with his broadcaster wife, Anne Mawathe, and their two sons, while working on a new work of fiction. A Kiss in the Dark is scheduled for publication in 2017.
“History has strange ways of announcing itself to the present, whether conceived in comforting darkness or blinding light. It can manifest with the gentleness of bean cracking out of pod, making music in its fall. And when such seed falls into fertile soils, it still wriggles from the tug of the earth, stretching a green hand for uplift. The seed of wonderment that germinated from the flicker of a kiss in that darkened night had, in a few months, grown by leaps and bounds.” —from A Kiss in the Dark, by Peter Kimani.
A Kiss in the Dark is set in Kenya in 1963, in the shadow of the country’s independence from Britain, this novel re-imagines the creation of the colony at the turn of the 20th century, and the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.
But it is the controversial birth of a child implicating the British administrator McDonald, English missionary Reverend Turnbull, and Indian worker Babu that threatens to derail the creation of the colony, and whose ramifications would reverberate through to the future generations.
What hastens the unravelling of the story is Babu’s singer grandson, Rajan’s accidental kiss with a stranger in the dark. His search for the kissing stranger leads him to his grandfather’s hidden history and its intersect with that of McDonald, Reverend Turnbull, and fellow Indian worker, Ahmad.
Using the binaries of light and darkness as controlling motif, A Kiss in The Dark teases out Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to re-evaluate colonialism and the fabled European enlightenment of Africa, with its omniscient narrator sketching intricately detailed social and geographic contexts harkens back to an oral tradition of storytelling. The novel’s language, a dreamy, exalted and earthy mix affirms its ambition in creating new thresholds, new definitions of identity that transcend the black-white divide that defines colonial and post-colonial literature to produce a new metaphor for race in 21st century Africa.