Set in the shadow of Kenya's independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation. The novel traces the lives and loves of three men--preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim--whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child. Years later, when Babu's grandson Rajan--who ekes out a living by singing Babu's epic tales of the railway's construction--accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men's shared, murky past. With its riveting multiracial, multicultural cast and diverse literary allusions, Dance of the Jakaranda could well be a story of globalization. Yet the novel is firmly anchored in the African oral storytelling tradition, its language a dreamy, exalted, and earthy mix that creates new thresholds of identity, providing a fresh metaphor for race in contemporary Africa.

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Critic Reviews (9)

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  1. Positive: 8 Out of 9
  1. Mixed: 1 Out of 9
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 9
Critical Consensus: Good.

The Nature of Things 20 Apr 2017

"...In addition to weaving the plot-line so expertly and with such grace and wit, Peter Kimani writes in a clear and understated style which makes the very complex story that he is telling easy to follow." ...

Huffington Post

04 Apr 2017
"All told, “Dance of the Jakaranda” snakes through Kenya’s history with a well-balanced accord between its past and its present. The book has some brilliant moments of vivid and evocative writing..." ...

The Johannesburg Revie ...

07 Aug 2017
"What Kimani shows us is that while it is true that there may be a focal point for every moment in history, there is always more to it than that. History, is also about outbursts of energy, from which only the people go on: changed, transformed, some ...

The Gazette

22 Jan 2017
"“Dance of the Jakaranda” is also examination of how history is constructed “in a land where myth and history often intersect.” Kimani does this by shifting narratives and, at times, delivery methods" ...

New York Journal of Bo

06 Dec 2017
“a compelling story conveying a powerful social and cultural critique along with a marvelous portrait of the beauties and wonders of Kenya...” ...

Historical Novel Socie

17 Feb 2017
"... the novel is told mostly in the African storytelling tradition, and some readers might find the narrative excessively descriptive, although the expertly written dialogue and natives’ observations can make the story lively." ...

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February 7, 2017


Akashic Books





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