"A taut, smart international thriller that seems all too credible, with a protagonist who feels like a friend. The Fall of Saints is an exciting new voice from Wanjiku wa Ngugi."

Tananarive Due, American Book Adward winner, author of My Soul to Take



In this stunning debut novel, a Kenyan expat living the American dream with her husband and adopted son soon finds it marred by child trafficking, scandal, and a problematic past.


Mugure and Zack seem to have the picture-perfect family: a young, healthy son, a beautiful home in Riverdale, New York, and a bright future. But one night, as Mugure is rummaging through an old drawer, she comes across a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it—a note that calls into question everything she’s ever believed about her husband...


A wandering curiosity may have gotten the best of Mugure this time as she heads down a dangerous road that takes her back to Kenya, where new discoveries threaten to undo her idyllic life. She wonders if she ever really knew the man she married and begins to piece together the signs that were there since the beginning. Who was that suspicious man who trailed Zack and Mugure on their first date at a New York nightclub? What about the closing of the agency that facilitated the adoption of their son?


The Fall of Saints tackles real-life political and ethical issues through a striking, beautifully rendered story. This extraordinary novel will tug at your heart and keep it racing until the end.


Buy the book


The Fall of Saints
Atria Books
288 pages
ISBN 9781476714912
February 2014


"Enchanting and sly, Wanjiku Wa Ngugi's The Fall of Saints is that deliciously slow-burned baked Alaska with razors hidden at its core...the story of a beautiful immigrant wife attempting to establish her family in America only to have unexpected horrors in her native Kenya compel her to happen upon a heart stopping secret from which there's no return. Ngugi's clinical, scalpel-like narrative rewards the reader with ferocious twists that left me breathless. An impressive debut."


— Kola Boof, author of The Sexy Part of the Bible


"A fast-paced and urgent read that forces us to consider one of the worst human rights violations of our time."


— Asha Bandele, author of The Prisoner's Wife


"Wanjiku Wa Ngugi's The Fall of Saints starts off fast and just gets faster without ever sacrificing the depth and complexity of its complicated cast of international characters. When Mugure Sivonen begins to suspect that her husband Zack is not telling the truth, she begins asking questions that take her from New York to Kenya and ultimately threaten not only her marriage, but her life."


— Pearl Cleage, author of Babylon Sisters


"A taut, smart international thriller that seems all too credible, with a protagonist who feels like a friend. The Fall of Saints is an exciting new voice from Wanjiku wa Ngugi."


— Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner, author of My Soul to Take


"Wa Ngugi’s novel explores a timely issue from a unique perspective."




Wanjiku wa Ngugi is a writer and director of the Helsinki African Film Festival (HAFF) in Finland. She is also a member of the editorial board of Matatu: Journal for African Literature and Culture and Society, and was a columnist for the Finnish development magazine Maailman Kuvalehti, writing about political and cultural issues. She has also been a jury member of the CinemAfrica Film Festival, Sweden, in 2012 & 2013.

Her work has been published in The Herald (Zimbabwe), The Daily Nation, Business Daily, The East African (Kenya), Pambazuka News, Chimurenga, and The New Black Magazine among others.


Helsinki African Film Festival, Finland
10-18 May 2014

Calabash Festival, Jamaica
30-31 May 2014


Helsinki African Film Festival

HAFF is now in its fifth year and this year’s theme is the Creative Pulse of Africa. When I moved to Finland in 2007, I was surprised at the level of misinformation about African people, both in the continent and the Diaspora. Finland has not escaped the Hollywood machine and the chronically negative representation of Africa in the news, so information about Africans is largely informed through the same narrow prisms. Hollywood has not exactly done any justice to the story of Africans, as most of the films are replete with stereotypes about Africa and Africans.

So this is why HAFF was born—out of this need to deconstruct the depiction of Africa as this Dark Continent that only produces negative images, one-sided stories, and dehumanised people who should be pitied. Africa is not a country. We wanted to show the diversity of this continent, and begin a different conversation, one informed by a more realistic view, through stories told by the Africans themselves.


Read Wanjiku’s interview with Beti Ellerson on the African Women in Cinema Blog

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Wanjiku wa Ngugi can be contacted at: wanjiku.ngugi[at]haff.fi


For book or film rights, please contact:
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New York, NY 10025

Tel: +1 212 532 0080

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