Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

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Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Occupation Writer
Nationality Kenya

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (born 1968) is a Kenyan writer, who was named "Woman of the Year" by Eve Magazine in Kenya in 2004 for her contribution to the country's literature and arts. She won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story "Weight of Whispers", which considers an aristocratic Rwandan refugee in Kenya.[1] The story was originally published in Kwani?, the Kenyan literary magazine set up by Binyavanga Wainaina after he won the Caine Prize the previous year. In September 2015, her book Dust won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.[2]


Born in Nairobi, Owuor studied English at Jomo Kenyatta University, before taking an MA in TV/Video development at Reading University. She has worked as a screenwriter and from 2003 to 2005 was the Executive Director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival.[3] Her short story "Weight of Whispers" was the 2003 winner of the Caine Prize. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including Kwani? and McSweeney’s, and her story "The Knife Grinder’s Tale" was made into a short film of the same title, released in 2007.[4][5]

In 2010, along with Binyavanga Wainaina, she participated in the Chinua Achebe Center's "Pilgrimages" project and travelled to Kinshasa, and intends to produce a book about her experiences.[6]

Her 2014 novel Dust portrays the violent history of Kenya in the second half of the 20th century. Reviewing Dust in The New York Times, Taiye Selasi wrote: "In this dazzling novel you will find the entirety of human experience — tearshed, bloodshed, lust, love — in staggering proportions."[7] Ron Charles of The Washington Post wrote: "Owuor demonstrates extraordinary talent and range in these pages. Her style is alternately impressionistic and harsh, incantatory and propulsive. One moment, she keeps us trapped within the bloodied walls of a torture cell; in the next, her poetic voice soars over sun-baked plains. She can clear the gloom with passages of Dickensian comedy or tender romance, but most of her novel takes places in 'haunted silences.' 'Dust' moves between the lamentation of a single family and the corruption of national politics, swirling around one young man’s death to create a vortex of grief that draws in generations of deceit and Kenya’s tumultuous modern history."[8]


  1. ^ Michelle Paulli, "Kenya celebrates Caine prize double", The Guardian, 15 July 2003'
  2. ^ "Daily Nation". Owuor wins literature prize at book awards. September 28, 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya)", Centre for Creative Arts, University of Kwazulu-Natal.
  4. ^ The Knife Grinder's Tale website.
  5. ^ "The Knife Grinder's Tale (2007)" at IMDb.
  6. ^ The Caine Prize for African Writing, 2003 winner: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Archived July 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Taiye Selasi, "The Unvanquished – ‘Dust,’ by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor", The New York Times, 28 February 2014.
  8. ^ Ron Charles, "Review: ‘Dust,’ by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor", The Washington Post, 4 February 2014.

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