Forbidden Fruit

Winner of Kenya's top literary prize


Desperate to make ends meet, Ombima commits a “harmless” crime. When he tries to conceal his misdeed, the simple farm laborer becomes a reluctant participant in a sinister affair. If discovered, the consequences could be disastrous for Ombima’s family, friends, and a spate of unwitting, gossipy villagers.


A delicious tale of greed, lust, and betrayal, Stanley Gazemba’s Forbidden Fruit is more than a dramatic tale of rural life in western Kenya. The moral slips and desperate cover-ups—sometimes sad, sometimes farcical—are the stories of time and place beyond the village of Maragoli. Gazemba's novel, previously published in Kenya as The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani? 2010), won the prestigious Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. 


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Forbidden Fruit
286 pages
paperback ($15.00) and Kindle ($10.00)
Fiction | African Literature  
5.5" x 8.5" 


Art for the cover by Michael Soi (Kenya). Book cover design by Charala. Interior design by Susan Leonard.


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Once in a while I come across a novel that affirms life, without cheapening it, or sensationalizing, a book that presents a human condition with such mastery it makes one proud to be alive…they are, for me, the sort of books that make literature great.
          —Binyavanga Wainaina


What makes [Forbidden Fruit] so special is that it has no pretensions about attempting to address issues of modernity, of city life, of “clash of cultures,” of the rural-urban divide...the issues it deals with are as immediate, even if they are beyond the gaze, beyond the limits of the urbanity that attracts most writers.
          —African Review of Books


Publicity, Reviews, & Stanley in the Press


Reviewed in the African Book Review

Reviewed in World Literature Today

For World Literature Today, Stanley writes "What to Read Now: From Aden to Kampala to Washington, D.C."

Featured by the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

Stanley is interviewed by Taz (Germany)

Reviewed in Africa in Words

Stanley is interviewed for Africa Book Link

Featured on Brittle Paper here and here

Lit Hub published the first chapter

Stanley is interviewed for Africa in Dialogue

E.L. Lindley's review 

Stanley shares the story of how Forbidden Fruit came to be (The Mantle)

Reviewed by Angel City Review

Stanley is short-listed for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 

The Crushing of the Safari Ants (New York Times)

Those Are Our People (New York Times)

How Award-Winning Middle Class Shamba Boy Got His Groove Back (Daily Nation, Kenya)

A Kenyan Writer Blossoms From a Nairobi Slum (NPR)


About the Author

Born in 1974 in Vihiga, Kenya, Stanley Gazemba has published three novels: The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani?, winner of the 2003 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for fiction, published in the U.S. as Forbidden Fruit), Khama (DigitalBackBooks), and Callused Hands (Nsemia). He has also published eight children’s books, of which A Scare in the Village (Oxford Univ. Press) won the 2015 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for children’s fiction. Gazemba’s fiction has appeared in ‘A’ is for Ancestors, a collection of short stories from the Caine Prize (Jacana); Africa39: New Writing From Africa South of the Sahara (Bloomsbury); The Literary Review (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.); Man of the House and Other New Short Stories from Kenya (CCC Press); Crossing Borders online magazine; among other publications.


A journalist by training, Gazemba has written for The New York Times, The East African, Msanii magazine, Sunday Nation, and Saturday Nation. Gazemba was the International Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2007.


Gazemba lives in Nairobi where he is the editor of Ketebul Music.


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