Born and raised in the Kenyan countryside, Stanley Gazemba’s dalliance with stories started when he was ten. His parents, who were both teachers, decided to send him off to a Catholic boarding school in Mumias, a small town in Western Kenya. While for Stanley’s parents this school was a prestigious opportunity, for their son it represented a prison sentence. Stanley, at the age of ten, preferred to engage in mischievous pranks with his playmates on the muddy paths of his village in Vihiga than spend his childhood trying to look like the son of a schooled African professional. To escape the monotony of everyday life in school and the dreadful food, he delved into stories like the Hardy Boys and Barbara Kimenye’s Moses series. Before long, Stanley was experimenting with creating his own stories.
At thirteen, Stanley sent off his first manuscript to a publisher—handwritten in one of his school notebooks, complete with illustrations in pencil. When the rejection slip came a few months later—a short letter on stiff white paper—it was a big day for him. The one phrase that rang out for Stanley was “…you have a knack for storytelling.” The ‘buts’ didn’t matter! It was this letter that signified Stanley Gazemba’s journey into professional writing.
Later Stanley moved to Nairobi to not only study and work, but also to get closer to the publishers; everything that had anything to do with publishing in Kenya was happening in Nairobi. During the course of his rocky journey to publication in Kenya, Stanley would graduate from writing in longhand to punching out his manuscripts on an old manual Olivetti typewriter, gifted to him by his employer; then, to the less personal computer that Stanley believes has the potential to make writers lazy with their grammar.
Stanley’s father was always curious about his son’s chosen profession because, in the old man’s thinking, writing was not a proper career. Schooled in colonial Kenya and Uganda, Mr. Navodera wanted his son to become a doctor, a lawyer or such; a career where you were provided with a gold or brass nameplate on your office desk and a title on it. But Stanley had other ideas, and was not easy to bend from his purpose once he had set his mind on what he wanted to do.
Still working on finding his groove in the literary craft, Stanley Gazemba has now published the following novels: The Stone Hills of Maragoli (Kwani? Press) which was the recipient of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize. This work was published in the U.S. as Forbidden Fruit. Stanley Gazemba’s works also include Khama; Callused Hands (Nsemia); eight children’s books entitled Shaka Zulu-Warrior King, Poko and the Jet, Poko at the Koras, The Herds boy and the Princess, Tobi and the Street boy, Ant’s Clay castle, A Scare in the Village (which was the recipient of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize) and Grandmother’s Winning Smile, a title which was long-listed for the Macmillan Prize.
His fiction has appeared in ‘A’ is for Ancestors, a collection of short stories from the Caine Prize (Jacana); The Literary Review-Africa Calling ( Fairleigh Dickinson University); Man of the House and other new Short Stories from Kenya (CCC Press); Crossing Borders online magazine; Africa’39: New Writing From Africa South of the Sahara (Bloomsbury); World Literature Today (University of Oklahoma); among other publications. He is a journalist by training, and has written for Msanii magazine, Sunday Nation, Saturday Nation, The New York Times and The East African. He was International Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2007. He lives in Nairobi and currently works as editor at Ketebul Music.
Regal House Publishing is delighted to be publishing Stanley Gazemba’s short story collection, Dog Meat Samosa, to be released in 2019.