Kenya Noir. Crime Fiction's Critique

Augart, Julia
Taylor & Francis Group
Journal Title: 
Journal of African Cultural Studies
Journal of African Cultural Studies Volume 30 2018 Issue 1 pp. 81-92

Along with the increasing popularity of crime fiction globally, Africa has not only become a popular setting for crime fiction, but lately African-authored crime fiction has become more prominent in scholarly literature. Kenya features as a popular setting in a number of international crime fictions (perhaps most famously in John le Carré's The Constant Gardener), but my argument here shows that Kenya has had its own crime tradition at least since independence. Beyond a form of mere entertainment, the genre has been used by Kenyan authors - among them Ng?g? wa Thiong'o, Meja Mwangi, David Maillu and John Kiriamiti - to present and represent social issues, as well as to develop critical viewpoints on postcolonial Kenya and Western neo-colonial exploitation of the country. This paper provides a typology of varieties of Kenyan crime fiction, which I show ranges across examples of expat crime fiction and Kenyan diaspora writing. I show how the various narratives set in Kenya voice a variety of different types of social criticism. My survey opens up new and challenging ways of understanding crime fiction as a form of social and political critique.

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CITATION: Augart, Julia. Kenya Noir. Crime Fiction's Critique . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , . Journal of African Cultural Studies Volume 30 2018 Issue 1 pp. 81-92 - Available at:

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