BOOK REVIEW – Tales Told by the Son of Kenya by Aggrey Chepkwony Sambay
The emergence of self-publishing has opened a path for aspiring young writers to get their stories out under their own steam, albeit one must be highly motivated and willing to shoulder all costs as well as marketing and promotion responsibilities. Aggrey Sambay seems to be up to the challenge. He’s been busy for months since his book release, making his way from one Chapters/Indigo book sale/signing to another and following up on all possible opportunities to have his voice heard. This on top of his astrophysics studies at York University.
This talented young author is an inspiration not only for his tenacity and ambition, but also for his bravery in publishing a book that shows a different view than the tourist boards present of his homeland of Kenya. The book cover may have a lion and giraffe on it, but it also features a drawing of a chemical plant which we soon find out is conducting ‘hidden’ and illegal chemical weapons research, and lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and scientists alike. Not something outsiders think of when they think of Kenya!
Touted as science fiction, the story opens with a suspicious explosion at the chemical plant, and our interest is immediately piqued. We are then taken on an intense ride through a world of espionage, murder, cover-ups, conspiracy, and a healthy dose of romance.
Using his characters symbolically, Sambay touches upon both universal themes and those particular to contemporary Kenyan society. It is a story of contrasts depicting the struggles between good and evil, youthful optimism and disillusionment, morality and corruption, loyalty and betrayal, tradition and modernity, suffering and intense love, and the battle of the sexes.
Sambay has a very interesting writing style, at once lovely and poetic, and direct and blunt, sometimes in the same sentence. This makes for a curious but delightful read. He is full of surprises, for instance, when describing a meal with a beautiful journalist, he says “I loved everything about her, even though she sprayed half-chewed food onto my plate when she laughed at one point. I didn’t mind that at all.”
Sambay’s sensitive side is pervasive as he has an incredible ability to express emotion through his characters. (One suspects some of the pain is based on the author’s own experiences.) And he is clearly a man of the earth and the skies. The natural beauty of Kenya is never far from the narrative and we often hear references to the brilliance of the stars and the sky, not surprising given Sambay’s academic interests.
Tales Told by the Son of Kenya delivers an important message and a new perspective, and is engaging from beginning to end. Aggrey Sambay has loads of potential so watch out for him as his writing career develops. This book is available in print and as an ebook on Amazon.
By Lise Watson- Owner of TWAS