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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o + André Fenton

Doing Time Wrestling with the Devil

Saturday, March 10, 2018
6:00 PM–7:30 PM

How does doing time in prison influence the decisions you make and your view on life? NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o was imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in 1977, but that did not stop him from speaking out. With only toilet paper to write on, during his year as a political prisoner, he completed the novel Caitani Mutharabaini (Devil on the Cross, 1982). Although he was released through the help of an international campaign, Thiong’o was forced into exile to escape plots for his assassination.

The author is now a household name in his native Kenya and throughout the world, thanks to his powerful and evocative novels that capture the many conflicts and dilemmas of early, postcolonial Kenya, as well as writings sharply critiquing the country’s neocolonial direction.What was it like, trying to write fiction under twenty-four-hour surveillance? Together with NYU neuroscientist André Fenton, NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o will explore the experience of time in prison and how it informed his creative process.

A book signing featuring Wrestling with the Devil will follow the program.

Co-presented by the Human Rights Watch.


Brainwave is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


About the Speaker


NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. He is the author of A Grain of Wheat; Weep Not, Child; and Petals of Blood, as well as Birth of a Dream Weaver and Wrestling with the Devil (The New Press). He has been nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, among other honors, and is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.

André Fenton is a Professor of Neural Science at New York University. His research focus is molecular, neural, behavioral, and computational aspects of memory. He studies how brains store experiences as memories, and how the expression of knowledge activates information that is relevant without activating what is irrelevant. André and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first molecule that maintains the persistence of memories in the brain, a discovery recognized by Science Magazine as one of the ten most important breakthroughs in all of science and technology published in 2006. André founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., which developed and commercialized an FDA-approved portable, wireless, and easy-to-use platform for obtaining medical quality EEGs anywhere, anytime, and for everyone. André co-hosts NOVA Wonders, soon to air on PBS. This is his third appearance for Brainwave.


Tickets: $25.00

Member Tickets: $22.50

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Student Tickets: $10.00

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