Binyavanga Wainaina

Author's books

How To Write About Africa


Binyavanga Wainaina was a pioneering voice in African literature, an award-winning memoirist and essayist, and a gatherer of literary communities. Before his tragic death in 2019 at the age of forty-eight, he won the Caine Prize for African Writing and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. His wildly popular essay “How to Write About Africa,” an incisive and unapologetic piece that exposed the harmfully racist ways Western media depicts Africa, with implicit bias and subjective clichés, changed the game for African writers and helped set the stage for a new generation of authors, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Yaa Gyasi.

When Wainaina published a “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir as an essay called “I Am a Homosexual, Mum,” in which he imagines coming out to his mother, he became a voice for the queer, African community as well, adding a new layer to how African sexuality is perceived.

How to Write About Africa celebrates this legacy in a collection of imaginative essays and short fiction about sexuality, art, history, and contemporary Africa. Wainaina’s writing is playful, robust, generous and full-bodied. He describes the modern world with sensual, emotional, and psychological detail, giving us a full-color view of a country and continent. These works present a portrait of a giant in African literature, who left a tremendous legacy.