This month a special edition of BBC World Book Club coming from Nairobi in Kenya. Lawrence Pollard talks to celebrated Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in the company of an enthusiastic audience of readers and students who have gathered in the bustling bookshop of Nairobi University where Ngugi was once a director. We’re discussing Ngũgĩ's landmark novel A Grain of Wheat, set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya’s independence from Britain. In it the tangled narratives of a group of Kenyan villagers interweave to tell an epic story of love tested, friendships betrayed and myths forged, confirming Ngũgĩ's status as a giant of African writing.
This month we’re talking to bestselling British writer JoJo Moyes about her wildly popular novel Me Before You.
Lou is a small town girl in need of a job. Will is a successful high-powered city trader who becomes wheelchair bound following an accident and decides he doesn’t want to go on living.
And then Lou is hired for six months to be his new caretaker. Worlds apart and trapped together by circumstance, the two get off to a rocky start. But Lou is determined to prove that life is worth living and as they embark on a series of adventures together, each finds their world changing in ways neither of them could have imagined.
(Image: Jojo Moyes. Photo credit: Stine Heilmann.)
Lee Child - Killing Floor
World Book Club talks to one of the world’s leading thriller writers, British-born Lee Child.
Killing Floor is the first book in the internationally popular Jack Reacher series and presents the all-action hero for the first time, as the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode: a righter of wrongs, and not a man to mess with.
Early one morning Reacher jumps off a bus in the middle of nowhere and walks 14 miles down an empty country road. The minute he reaches the town of Margrave he is thrown into jail. As the only stranger in town a local murder is blamed on him, but as nasty secrets leak out, and the body count mounts, one thing is for sure: They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.
Chan Koonchung - The Fat Years
This month's World Book Club once again comes from China's capital Beijing. Lawrence Pollard interviews acclaimed and controversial writer Chan Koonchung about his much debated dystopian novel The Fat Years from a buzzy local bookstore in the city centre, filled with an audience of excited readers ready with their questions for the author.
Chan’s speculative fiction, The Fat Years, has been described as giddily daring. It imagines a time in the near future where China is the world’s dominant power and all Chinese are beamingly happy, all but our heroes who come to realise that a month has gone missing from history. No-one remembers it, no-one cares, so they set out to find it. The Fat Years has never been officially published in mainland China but has quite a reputation. Listen in and find out why.
(Photo credit: Colin McPherson/Corbis/Getty Images.)
Lijia Zhang: Lotus
This month BBC World Book Club comes from Beijing with Lawrence Pollard.
The programme is a guest of the Bookworm, three rooms and a roof terrace full of books in Chinese and English, a fixture on the literary scene here for over a decade.
Bestselling Chinese writer Lijia Zhang answers questions about her novel Lotus. Lijia taught herself English while working in a missile factory in a bid to become a writer and a journalist, and she’s written Lotus in English. It’s the story of a young migrant worker from the country who ends up as a prostitute in Shenzen, the economic powerhouse of Southern China. It’s also a deeply researched picture of the people who look up at the economic miracle from beneath and their struggles for dignity, love and a future they can believe in.
(Image: Lijia Zhang. Credit: Will Baker.)