Zigzagged and constructed out of a thousand detours,” is how Kenya-native Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor describes her trajectory as a writer, which reached another turning point on January 28 with the publication of her novel Dust by Knopf. The novel follows the Oganda family after young Odidi Oganda’s murder and tackles tumultuous periods of Kenyan history, including the Mau-Mau Rebellion. Owuor was inspired, in part, by a visit to Kenya’s northern territories, just before the national referendum of 2005, which led to an outbreak of violence in the country. She hoped to write a tribute to the people she met on her trip.

Diana Miller at Knopf, who acquired Owuor’s novel from Sarah Chalfant at the Wylie Agency, says that Dust “tells a story no one has told before.” Owuor’s relationship to Kenya, combined with her history as a writer, no doubt contribute to a voice that Miller describes as “fierce, courageous, and unfettered.” She adds, “Another impressive aspect of the book is its ambitious scope, journeying with the characters across the landscape of Kenya and beyond, starting in 2007 and reaching back into the 1950s and ’60s.”

Though there were other offers, Owuor says working with Miller and Knopf has been a wonderful adventure. “It felt rather indulgent to be able to talk and refine the story with someone who felt it so intensely,” she notes.