TOP IT OFF INTERVIEW

Mũthoni Kiarie

48, WRITER

OAKLAND, CA

Mũthoni Kiarie was raised in Nairobi where she originally discovered her penchant for spinning dark tales about life around her. She has since been published in The Porter House Review, Narrative Magazine, Dismantle – An Anthology, The Weeklings, Generations Literature Magazine, among others. Mũthoni is a Mills College MFA graduate and an alumna of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and the Las Dos Brujas Writers’ Workshops. She lives and loves her adopted home in Oakland, CA while constantly pining for her original home, Kenya.

First record/cd you bought with your own money. Do you still have it?

Karyn White’s debut album, “Karyn White”. I was in boarding school in Kenya in the early 90s and all my girlfriends were crazy for this album. We’d gather around each other’s rooms after lights out trying to softly sing the lyrics to the songs on the album, hoping no one would hear us. I was so obsessed, I scraped together all my allowance to get this cassette. My favorite song was “Superwoman” which spoke of the pain of a woman in a loveless marriage and in all my teenage wisdom, I felt I really understood.I don’t have the cassette any longer, I mean who even has those any longer. But I do listen to this album quite a bit still in my music streaming app. It transports me back and I still think it’s a work of high art.

Describe your perfect night at home. What do you like to eat, drink, and do?

I’ll put on some music, something from home. I’m a big Sauti Sol fan. Their songs can get me dancing in no time or sad at lost love or in awe of their video artistry. Anyway, then I’ll cook a meal while taking little dance breaks. I love seabass and I like to experiment with different recipes. Baked, roasted, pan fried on a hot skillet till the skin curls into itself. And I’ll serve it with some pickled cucumber salad, or some jasmin rice with a quick tomato sauce. I didn’t grow up eating dessert often, so I will have a glass of wine instead of dessert. I love a chilled, minerally Albarino. It goes so well with white fish. Once I’ve had dinner, I’ll settle in with a book then write a bit working on my short stories. It’s the best kind of night.

Describe a time you felt welcomed in someone’s home in an expected way or how a family member made you feel special when you came to their home.

I grew up in a big family, lots of cousins and we’d be in each other’s homes all the time. In my aunties homes, I’d always feel welcome. Their kitchens were constantly sending out delicious food that filled our bellies just in time for us to run outside again and roll down the grassy hill, ride our bikes, chase each other around in the tall grasses behind our houses, then run back in for more deliciousness. I cherish these memories even more as the years pass.