Truth Is a Flightless Bird

Nice, an eccentric UN worker, involved in the dangerous world of her drug trafficking boyfriend in Mogadishu, is kidnapped by Hinga, a corrupt police officer working for drug lords, and Ciru, a complicated woman with a tragic past of her own. Her old flame Duncan, a white American pastor, in an attempt to save her is uprooted from his expat middle-class bubble and forced to navigate the moral complexities of the Nairobi underground fraught with characters fighting for survival. Set against the impending arrival of President Obama to Kenya, Truth is a Flightless Bird, a crime novel, is an exploration of colonialism and current imperial and capitalist structures that create and perpetuate violence. Truth is a Flightless Bird is a brutal love letter to the frontier town that is present-day Nairobi: a studied observation of the failure of bare-knuckled capitalism, the inequality machines our cities have become, and— ultimately—the profoundly irrational human capacity to hope, to risk everything in order to have something in which to believe. With Truth is a Flightless Bird, Hussain establishes a remarkable voice, one truly his own.

ISBN: 9781957810034


300 pages


$ 25.00 USD

Praise and reviews

“Truth is a Flightless Bird is an intriguing mystery about the drugs trade and the people caught up in it. It’s a fascinating insight into Nairobi, from the vibrant rich quarters to the poverty ridden streets… There’s a strong story here, grounded, at times in some shocking insights. The setting, mostly Nairobi, is brilliantly observed… Akbar Hussain is very good at demonstrating how for people will go for the promise of a better life.”

~Crime Fiction Lover

"Hussain’s Truth is A Flightless Bird is a fast-paced story set in an African city that never sleeps. Like the characters of the novel, he manages to capture a city that’s as unpredictable as it is memorable. A noteworthy debut"

~Laurence Daren King, author, Boxy and Star

"Truth Is a Flightless Bird is a compelling thriller that blends literary and noir elements into a harrowing character study of three flawed people in blind pursuit of an unobtainable future."


"It's a wonderful read - a genre I'm not very familiar with, but I enjoyed very much. I also gave a shout-out to the Press, which I think is doing admirable (and necessary) work."

~Getting Lit with Linda (podcast)

“Hussain’s earnest debut dramatizes the fraught social and economic circumstances of modern-day East Africa.”

~Publisher’s Weekly

“US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit and Nairobi is abuzz. But the real story for us is related via several characters: Nice, Duncan, Ciru, and Toogood. All of them in difficult circumstances, all of them connected in some way to the illegal drug trade. With their stories, comes the story of two cities, and much about the culture within. You are transplanted to the unsavoury parts of the drug world, good and bad. Much like the characters, also not all bad and not all good.”

~June Lorraine Roberts, Murder in Common

“With its intriguing title, Truth is a Flightless Bird by Akbar Hussain is a debut literary fiction novel. It is set in Nairobi just prior to an imminent American Presidential visit by Barack Obama…Its easy-flowing narrative captures the ambiance of Nairobi and its machinations played out in this enjoyable tale.”

~Michael B,

“This novel was a breathless rush from beginning to end. I can see how this would make a fantastic television series…Truth is a Flightless Bird is a fantastic novel of place. It gives the reader a view into a world most of us will never get to see or experience in person…”

~Dr JoAnn LoSavio

About the author

A lawyer and co-founder of a successful fintech startup, Akbar Hussain lived in Nairobi for 7 years and currently resides in New York.

Akbar Hussain
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