Book Reading: Fall of Giants by Ken Follet

Peter Ngila Njeri is a writer and editor.  Photo | Pool


What you need to know:

Name: Peter Ngila Njeri, writer and editor 

I could say I have been reading all my life. Having grown up under my grandmother, I grew up with stories. I used to be that quiet boy who would rather hide in a book than go out playing. I read everything I laid my hands on; newspapers in school, children's books like Adventures of Thiga, my elder cousins’ high school set books and even books with covers torn out, like Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. I was lucky that my deceased uncle had a bookshelf in the village with all those fine Heinemann African Writers Series. That’s why today I own the first 1982 edition of Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 


I read for many reasons— reading is fun; sometimes a good book makes you forget your demons. Reading makes it possible for me to travel the world without a Visa or a passport. I especially love books translated from other languages, because through them I am able to travel to other cultures and lifestyles. Being a lover of history, historical fiction makes me know of how life used to be long before I was born. Reading makes me a better writer. I also love the touch and smell of books, especially when you flip a page! 


In some months I read two books but it really depends on the length and my mental status—reading needs a high level of concentration. Last year, I read The Eighth Life by Georgian (Georgia the country!) novelist, Nino Haratischvilli in just 12 days of doing nothing else with my life. At 936 pages long, the novel is translated from the German.  


I read basically everything, as long as I like the story line. But I have a special liking for historical fiction, like the brilliant The Old Drift by Zambian novelist Namwali Serpell. I love fantasy and the exploration of alternative worlds like in Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (translated from Japanese). 


This month I have been working on my novel manuscript and digging into Fall of Giants by Ken Follet. It focuses on all the major world wars – World War One, World War Two and the Cold War). From Fall of Giants I’m hoping to learn more about how one family could not stop the world from descending into World War One (by the start of WW1in 1914, the three major protagonists – Germany, the Soviet Union and Britain – were led by three cousins).  


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