Red Strangers

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Red Strangers
First edition
Author Elspeth Huxley
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Chatto and Windus (London)
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 406 pp
OCLC 156758919

Red Strangers is a 1939 novel by Elspeth Huxley.[1] The story is an account of the arrival and effects of British colonialists, told through the eyes of four generations of Kikuyu tribesmen in Kenya. The book immerses the reader so completely in the pre-Western Kikuyu culture, that when the Kikuyu are paid money for their labour, it is quite easy to understand why they throw the coins into the bushes. After all, what does money do?

Epic in its scale, Red Strangers spans four generations of a Kikuyu family in Africa and their relationship with European settlers, who were nicknamed "red" strangers due to their sunburns.[1] The book, by describing a Kenyan tribe and their way of life, with its rituals, its beliefs, its codes and its morality, shows European customs in stark, unflattering contrast with Kikuyu traditions. The differences in cultural attitudes to war, methods of cultivation, the administering of justice, and the use of money are played out in this semi-fictional view of the damaging forces of colonization.[1]

Though the book was out of print for quite some time, in 1998 the British biologist Richard Dawkins wrote an article of appreciation for the novel in the Financial Times, challenging "any reputable publisher to bring out a copy of their own."[2] Penguin Books subsequently published the novel in February 1999, with Dawkins' article as the foreword,[1] followed by a paperback in May 2006.[1] His article was recycled in A Devil's Chaplain.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Red strangers a novel", LibraryThing, 2007, webpage: LibraryThing-38.
  2. ^ Financial Times, 1998-05-09, Out Of The Soul Of Africa, Dawkins, R.