Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author Barbara Wertheim Tuchman says of books to be the carriers of civilization. That without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. This truth has long fueled the volume of talented writers that Kenya has produced for generations now. Kenyan authors, documenting the Kenyan and African stories in transcendental books, have captivated, educated, and informed their readers over the years, and in so doing irrevocably changing their lives.

Here are 10 of these Kenyan writers who have released books that you ought to take time to read:

Troy Onyango

A writer from Kisumu, Troy Onyango is the author of the short story collection  For What Are Butterflies Without Their Wings. The short story collection features stories that have been published in platforms such as The Johannesburg Review of Books, Isele Magazine, Namibian Doek Magazine, and Harvard’s  Transition Magazine among others. The titular story of the Short Story collection, For What Are Butterflies Without Their Wings, won him the inaugural Nyanza Literary Festival Prize ( NALIF) in 2016. Troy Onyango has also received other accolades such as being shortlisted for the Miles Moreland Foundation Scholarship and receiving a Pushcart Prize nomination. He is the founder of Lolwe, which is considered among the leading online literary magazines in the continent.

Muthoni Likimani

Muthoni Likimani is a veteran Kenyan author renowned for her published works of both fiction and non-fiction and children’s books as well. Some of her renowned books are Passbook Number F. 47927: Women and Mau Mau in Kenya published in 1985, They Shall Be Chastised published in 1974 and What Does a Man Want published in the same year as well. Muthoni who is 98 years old as of right now, is also known for her activism mostly fuelled by her stature as one of the first women producers to work at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, working on women’s and children’s programmes, and also being freelance broadcaster for the BBC as well. She has received accolades such as the World YWCA Council Award in 2007 and an appointment as a Peace Ambassador in Kenya of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC) in 2014.

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor won the 2003 Caine Prize For African writing for her short story “Weight of Whispers”. She is the author of two Novels, Dust and The Dragonfly Sea. She has also had short stories and essays published in platforms such as  The Caine Prize Anthology in 2004, The Little Black Book Anthology in 2005 , The New Daughters of Africa in 2016 and 2019 respectively, Chimurenga, Granta and others. Apart from her Caine prize win she has received accolades such as being named Woman of the Year in Kenya in 2004, her book Dust being shortlisted for the Folio Prize and also winning the Jomo Kenyatta Prize For Literature in 2015.


Binyavanga Wainaina

Considered to be among the best Kenyan writers ever, the late Binyavanga Wainaina won the Caine Prize  For African Literature in 2002 (becoming the first ever Kenyan to do so) . He was also the founder of Kwani?  which is considered the most influential literary journal to ever grace the African literary space. He was the author of books such as One Day I Will Write About This Place which is a memoir published in 2011 and ‘How to Write About Africa: Collected Works’ which was published posthumously in 2023 by OneWorld publications .


Khadija Abdalla Bjaber

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is an author of Hadrami descent from Mombasa. She emerged as the first winner of the Gray wolf Press Africa Prize for her first novel manuscript The House Of Rust. The novel was published  in  2021 and received massive praise and a warm reception  which culminated in it winning the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize For fiction. Khadija’s other works have been published in journals and magazines such as Lolwe, 20.35 Africa, Brainstorm Kenya, Enkare Review and other avenues.


Okwiri Oduor

35 year old Okwiri Oduor is the author of Things They Lost which was released by Oneworld Publications in 2022. Okwiri Oduor won the 2014 Caine Prize For African Writing for her short story My Father’s Head becoming the third Kenyan to win the prize after Binyavanga Wainaina and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. She was also part of the Africa39 project, which was a collaborative project back in 2014 initiated by the Hay Festival in partnership with Rainbow Book Club. The Africa39 project sought to identify 39 of the most promising writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in the development of literature from both Africa and the African diaspora.


Mukoma Wa Ngugi

The son of Ngugi wa Thiongo, Mukoma wa Ngugi is the author of books such as Nairobi Heat, Black Star Nairobi, Killing Sahara, Mr’s Shaw and others. He has also written columns and essays in platforms such as LA Times, Radical History Review, World Literature Today, Mail and Guardian, the Herald, Daily Nation, Kwani?, The EastAfrican and other platforms.  Mukoma Wa Ngugi is currently an associate professor of English at the private ivy league land-grant research university Cornell University, from where he administers the Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature which is a prize that aims  to promote reading and writing in Kiswahili by awarding prizes to authors with outstanding Kiswahili fiction, poetry, short story collections and memoir manuscripts.


Meja Mwangi

Meja Mwangi is an author known for novels such as Kill Me Quick which was published in 1973, Going Down River Road published in 1976 and The Cockroach Dance published in  1979 among others. For his work he has received accolades such as the 1974 Jomo Kenyatta Prize For Literature, the 1978 Lotus Prize For Literature, the German Youth Literature Prize, getting a Honourable Mention in the 1989 Noma Award and a nomination in the International Dublin Literary Award in 2002. Meja Mwangi who was born in 1948 is considered by some as one of the best Kenyan authors ever. He has also worked in the film industry, screenwriting and directing numerous films.


Muthoni Garland

Muthoni Garland is the author of Tracking the Scent of My Mother, Odour of Fate, Helicopter Beetles: Obsession,  Fear and Longing and other books.  She also has had works published in literary journals such as Kwani?, Farafina, Chimurenga and others. Muthoni Garland is a founder member of Storymoja, a writer’s collective based in Nairobi which is behind the publishing house with the same name, StoryMoja Publishers.


Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is the most renowned author from Kenya . He has written acclaimed books such as Weep Not, Child, the first ever novel in English to be published by a Writer from East Africa, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat and many others. Ngugi is the Kenyan author with the most literary accolades to his name. He is also known for his radicle views on language, occasionally advocating for Africans to embrace their local mother tongues in lieu of English or French which most Africans communicate and write in.