Le Carre Novel Spooks Kenyanbooksellers

By Crawley, Mike | The Christian Science Monitor, March 6, 2001 | Go to article overview

Le Carre Novel Spooks Kenyanbooksellers


Crawley, Mike, The Christian Science Monitor


If you want to buy the new novel by bestselling author John Le Carre in Kenya, you'll need a secret Swahili password to get it.

"The Constant Gardener" is so controversial here that most bookshops are afraid to sell it. It takes the whispered phrase moja shamba, the Swahili words for "one garden" to finally produce it at one shop.

A clerk fishes the book from its hiding place in a cardboard box and passes it to the customer already wrapped in a brown paper bag. "We have to be quiet about it," the bookseller says.

Set in Kenya, Mr. Le Carre's novel paints an unflattering portrait of the country's leadership, and booksellers fear that by selling it, they will run afoul of the country's political elite.

While there is no official government ban on "The Constant Gardener" - nor have government figures spoken publicly about it - the manager at a bookshop in a Nairobi shopping mall says, "It's a banned book. Anyone who keeps it, if you get caught, you'll have a problem."

"It's too sensitive for us to stock," says another bookseller, smiling uncomfortably and ending the conversation abruptly.

When other booksellers are asked for the novel, they drop their voices, look around nervously and say they have no copies and no plans for getting any.

The booksellers' reluctance stems from the government's intolerance for freedom of expression, says Namwaya Otsieno, editor of Expression Today, a monthly paper published in Nairobi.

"The bookshops are highly compromised," he says. "They have been used to ensure that certain material deemed sensitive by the government doesn't reach Kenyans."

Some bookshops are owned by businesspeople with close links to the government, Mr. Otsieno says. "They would not want to stock anything that would jeopardize their relations with the people in power."

Le Carre's novel contains a few references to President Daniel arap Moi and Richard Leakey, the son of famous paleontologists who now heads Kenya's civil service. While Mr. Leakey is depicted as honorable, the comments about the man who has ruled Kenya for 23 years are far less complimentary.

The novel characterizes President Moi as being antagonistic toward gays and aid agencies. His government is called "terminally corrupt" by the character Sandy Woodward, a British diplomat. "Ministers and officials are diverting lorry-loads of food aid and medical supplies earmarked for starving refugees," Woodward says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Le Carre Novel Spooks Kenyanbooksellers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.