New African Writing: [A] Long Time Coming
Rosetta Codling, European Literary Scene Examiner
September 24, 2011
Title: Long Time Coming, 'amaBooks Publishers, 2009
Edited by: Jane Morris
Synopsis: Jane Morris assembles another collection of short stories from the best contemporary writers of Zimbabwe today entitled Long Time Coming. Julius Chingono, John Eppel, and Brian Chikwava are noted contributors to this work, but there are additional Zimbabwean writers that are equally talented too. Sandisile Tshuma’s selection Arrested Development serves as an introduction to all. This first-person narrative is an account of the trials of a young lady attempting to go from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ via the unreliable, temperamental transport system of Zimbabwe. Self described, our narrator rants: “I am not hard to spot in this crowd at the barely functioning filling station. I am the sore thumb of a twenty-something year old woman wearing high-end sunglasses and trendy jeans, carrying minimal luggage and standing in a statuesque pose…” And indeed our narrator is the typical, young, mobile, and affluent one seeking a better route and a better trip out of Africa. The banter and the despair of Zimbabweans resonate well in this short ‘snapshot’ of their lives.
The writer Mathew Chokuwenga creates an expose on life that reads like an African version of Henry James’ Washington Square. This is a complicated, many tiered story about complicated people and complicated lives. The title of the work is Lanigan Avenue. The residents of Lanigan Street and Washington Square share many secrets, intrigues and little love.
One of John Eppel’s contributions to the collection is entitled The Awards Ceremony. Eppel’s selection pairs well with the poem My Country by his (deceased) comrade Julius Chingono. The medium of satire is often illustrated in John Eppel’s writings. The Awards Ceremony is a short creation of the author that satires a farce within the hypocrisy of a government award ceremony. There is some dark humor in this one. A reader will find overt humor supplied by the ample wife of the Minister too. The poem of Julius Chingono pairs so well with The Awards Ceremony because it focuses upon the same theme. My Country is a cry from Julius Chingono. He bemoans the reality of his cosmetically attractive... but barren... homeland reduced to a disposable state that… “leads to a rubbish dump/by the cemetery.” Powerful is the word. Readers will find that this book contains short writings requiring extensive deliberations.
Critique: I was enthralled, mesmerized, intrigued, and enamored with this collection. Zimbabwean writers deserve the center of the literary stage. I have reviewed several works from this genre and my fascination and appreciation continues. I truly know that educators in the fields of language and history will find this collection useful for adult education. The readings flow easily and well, but the issues are suited for mature readers. I recommend this book to all!