The cover of "Unbury Our Dead With Song"

Unbury Our Dead With Song

Mũkoma Wa Ngũgĩ

The fourth novel by the Cornell English professor is narrated by a Kenyan reporter who meets four musicians competing in a low-rent Nairobi boxing club to be the top singer of Tizita, a seminal type of Blues music from Ethiopia. The meeting inspires the tabloid journalist and growing Tizita fan to follow the singers back to their native country as a means of understanding the music through the lives of its performers. “The Tizita was not just a popular traditional Ethiopian song; it was a song that was life itself,” the author writes in his protagonist’s voice. “It had been sung for generations, through wars, marriages, deaths, divorces, and childbirths. For musicians and listeners exiled in Kenya, the U.S., and Europe, or trying to claim a home in Israel as Ethiopian Jews, the Tizita was like a national anthem to the soul, for better or worse.”

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