Richard Dawkins: By the Book

From the New York Times:

You were born in Kenya and spent your early childhood there. What kinds of books did you read while growing up in Africa?

0915-BTB-articleInlineThe greatest novel to come out of Kenya is, in my admittedly limited opinion, one of the great novels of the English language, and it is lamentably neglected by literary connoisseurs: Elspeth Huxley’s “Red Strangers,” a saga sweeping through four generations of a Kikuyu family, based on the author’s sympathetic and lifelong familiarity with that tribe. Beginning before the coming of the white men, she takes us readers into the Kikuyu world and mind so successfully that when the British finally arrive, we find their ways as quaint and alien as if they were invading Martians. We feel at home in an economy pegged to the goat standard (as I put it in my introduction to the Penguin reprint of the book), and we share the tribal indignation that rupees cannot, as promised, be “changed into goats.” Huxley’s descriptive powers rival Steinbeck’s, with the added subtlety that her metaphors and imagery are drawn from the Kikuyu mind. The pasture “gleamed like a parrot’s wing.” A felled tree “tottered like a drunken elder.”

More here.