The idea for Forbidden Fruit came to me in the expansive garden of an old colonial bungalow in Nairobi’s Lavington Estate, where I was then working as a gardener. Although the book was first published in Kenya in 2002 as The Stone Hills of Maragoli, it reverted to its working title when it was reissued by my American publisher, The Mantle, in 2017. We were in the middle of our Nairobi “winter,” around June or July. Back then the seasons were fairly regular and predictable, before the Global Warming monster came upon us.
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.