When the late Julius Chingono met John Eppel at the Intwasa Arts Festival in 2007, an instant bond of friendship began to form and the two writers decided to work on a collaborative project. That project will be launched in Bulawayo this afternoon and unfortunately only one of the two contributors will be there to witness it.
Chingono, who died in January this year, will not be there to see this latest work, titled Together, and featuring short stories and poems by him and Eppel.
The 154 page book, an ‘amaBooks project, was published by the University of Kwazulu-Natal Press in South Africa, by UNO Press in North America and by ‘amaBooks in Africa and Europe.
Drew Shaw from Zimbabwe’s Midlands State University met the two writers at the Harare International Festival of the Arts in 2009, two years after their initial Intwasa meeting. Shaw writes in the introduction to the book that their literary liaison was odd in that ‘Eppel is a self-conscious stylist, steeped in Western literary tradition’ while Chingono was an ‘an anti-stylist, who does not follow any literary mentors.’
And yet the two men had great respect for each other. Shaw, who interviewed both of them, asked Chingono what connected him to Eppel and the reply was “humour and realism” while Eppel said he had found his new friend to be, “a warm-hearted man with a mind like a razor-blade.”
Chingono was born in 1946 on a commercial farm near Harare and spent most of his life working in mines as a rock blaster. He had five published books and wrote poetry and prose in Shona and English and won awards for poems written in both languages.
Eppel is one of Bulawayo’s most prolific writers. Born in 1947, he was raised in the city where he still lives, teaching English at Christian Brothers College a few kilometres down the road from his alma mater, Milton High School. He has six published novels, numerous poetry and short story collections and has won many awards for his work.
The stories and poems in Together take us on a journey through Zimbabwe as it goes through political, economic and social turmoil.
One story by Chingono begins with words that sum up the very thing that these two writers did not believe should represent Zimbabwe; “He was our boss. We feared him. We did not respect him. One of the reasons was that he used his right boot to send his instructions home.”
And a short poem byEppel brings home the very thing that is keeping the ideal at bay; “Governing in Africa/ Is like sweeping leaves/ On a windy day.”
In Together we see Zimbabwe through two sets of eyes; two view points that are united in the underlying hope that common purpose will one day bring the nation together as it did these two men from different races, different backgrounds and of different literary styles.
'amaBooks have published 34 books featuring 221 writers since we started in 2000.
For information about the books and the writers, please visit www.amabooksbyo.com.
Outside of Zimbabwe, most of the books are available through www.africanbookscollective.com or many other online outlets.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician', 'This September Sun' and 'Where to Now?' are available in the UK from Parthian Books.
'This September Sun' is available in East Africa through Longhorn Press.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician' is published in North America by Ohio University Press, in Nigeria and other West African countries by Kachifo (Farafina) and in Germany by Peter Hammer Verlag.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician', 'This September Sun' 'Where to Now' and 'Textures' are available online through jamalon.com.
'amaBooks titles are available in Bulawayo at Orange Elephant, Book and Bean, Indaba Book Cafe, Picassos, Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe; in Harare at the National Gallery, Blackstone Books and Avondale Bookshop; in South Africa at Clarkes (Cape Town), Xarra (Johannesburg) and Bridge Books (Johannesburg).
If you are outside Africa and would like to buy a particular book through the African Books Collective, please click on the image of the book cover below.
If you would like brief information about recent books, to read extracts or to buy from an online store, click on the book2look logo below.
Otherwise, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find a bookshop through www.amabooksbyo.com.
amaBooks as e-books
Most 'amaBooks titles are available as e-books through ABC. Please click on the link below.
They are also available on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and many other online stores.
This September Sun, Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe and Dancing with Life: Tales from the Township are available in the USA as e-books through Scribd. Please click on the Scribd logo below.
The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things
The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician
The Gonjon Pin
A Memory This Size
Available from 'amaBooks in Zimbabwe
Where to Now?
This September Sun
by Bryony Rheam
Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe
Silent Cry: Echoes of Young Zimbabwe Voices available outside Zimbabwe