Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Textures, poems by John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo published

The collaboration between two of Zimbabwe's foremost poets, John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo, has been published.

Textures weaves together poems from the two poets, "weaving words, making some sort of music.” Drew Shaw in his introduction to the collection notes that 'To read Textures is to see how Eppel and Muzanenhamo are in many ways similar yet also interestingly different. What connects them is meticulous attention to the craft of poetry, particularly to its musical elements. As Eppel explained, “there’s this kind of paradox with lyric poets where they actually want to get rid of words, but the only way they can get rid of words is by using words. So there’s this movement away from sense dominating to sound dominating.”'
Muzanenhamo's 'Engine Philosophers' begins:

The smell of steel and oil is the incense of our labour.
In fields shot green with growth, brittle with grain,
or bare as anvils – we extend our hands over the iron altar.
Sometimes visions are lost through the slip of a spanner,
a misplaced nut collapses a thought like a faulty jack.
But no real workman worth his salt jumps in straight off the bat
to rotate a shaft or turn a bolt. Down to changing a wheel,

a moment’s silence honours an established principle.

Aptly one of Eppel's poems is titled, 'Christmas in Bulawayo':

A hallelujah of Heughlin's robins

wakes me from a troubled sleep, troubled not

by regrets or misgivings but by hymns,

hymns of mosquitoes, high-pitched; prick

of crickets, strident cicadas, squirrels

bickering; and the blessing of soft rain

on a tin roof.

Textures is available at outlets in Harare and Bulawayo, as well as online through www.african bookscollective.com, and, soon, through megabooks.co.za in South Africa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tendai Huchu's 'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician' Published in Zimbabwe

Tendai Huchu's second novel has been published by 'amaBooks, and is available in outlets across Zimbabwe. It will soon be available elsewhere through the African Books Collective.

Set mainly in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician introduces us to the three Zimbabweans of the title who each struggle to find a place for themselves far from home and the world they knew. The Magistrate tries to create new memories and roots, fusing a wandering exploration of Edinburgh with music. The Maestro, a depressed, quixotic character, sinks out of the real world, preferring novels and fantasy. The Mathematician, a youthful character, follows a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, until the universes of the three main characters collide.
In this carefully crafted, multi-layered novel, Tendai Huchu, with his inimitable humour, reveals much about the Zimbabwe story as he draws the reader deep into the lives of the three main characters.
The publication of The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician was supported by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust.

Tendai’s first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was published in Zimbabwe and the UK, and was translated into French, German and Italian. This year, Tendai’s short story, ‘The Intervention’, was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. The story was first published in the Indian magazine Open Road Review and is available in Zimbabwe in the Caine Prize anthology The Gonjon Pin and other stories, published by ’amaBooks. The Bulawayo-based publishers are the Zimbabwean publishers of the annual Caine prize anthologies. The collections are published across Africa by other publishers and also in the UK.
Tendai Huchu’s short fiction and nonfiction has been published in magazines all over the world and the quality of his writing has been recognized by his receiving a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship.

'An unusually astute and unflinching writer' The Guardian
'Tendai Huchu illustrates universal notions well' The Examiner
'Tendai Huchu seems to be the great-grandchild of Jonathan Swift with many voices in his head' Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Together reviewed in Harare News

Together celebrates the writing of two of Zimbabwe’s veteran authors, the late Julius Chingono and John Eppel. In Together, the Bulawayo-based publishers, ’amaBooks bridge the gulf between the black and white literary traditions. Interestingly, it is the crisis of the past decade that seems to have revealed elements of shared experience across racial lines.
Chingono brings a distinctive humour to his stories and poems about a country in the grip of an economic and political crisis. In the poem, 20-044L, he writes:
The number on my door
reads 20-044L,
but it is not the number
of my house.
The scrap metals
that make the door
a motor car number plate.
He exhibits an uncommon ability to laugh at the absurd that now passes for the norm; a supposedly revolutionary party that imposes election candidates and arrests party supporters who question such practices, a lifestyle built around waiting where shortages are commonplace, the predatory behaviour of public toilet cleaners who practically rob the public, and more.
In the story Shonongoro, a harmless-looking public toilet cleaner gently taps into traditional Shona speech registers between in-laws to trap a patron to part with a few dollars! In Chingono’s world, there are few saints!
Read Murehwa, the story of an old bachelor who dies without ever engaging a lover and discover Chingono’s hilarious narration of the sahwira’s prescription to “fix” the dead man’s stubbornly erect male member.
John Eppel is master of satire. His short stories and poems are more overtly political, displaying a certain anger at the turn of events. In Broke-Buttock Blues, Eppel reminds the reader of the violence of past elections:
They burned all our mealies, our chickens, our dog,
they burned all our mealies, our chickens, our dog;
my uncle, they hit him to death with a log.
Photograph courtesy of Tswarelo Mothobi
In Bhalagwe Blues, he evokes memories of the Gukurahundi camps, reliving the misery of detainees:
We dig many graves every day in the sun,
we dig many graves every day in the sun,
they tease us then kill us, they do it for fun.
In Discarded, Eppel shows us what can happen to institutions in the wider context of the chaos. The land reform programme is quickly hijacked by fake war veterans who have no real interest in farming and violence is mistaken for patriotism. The line between crime and political activism is blurred.
Who Will Guard the Guards? is an hilarious take on what happens when law enforcers become victims of an economic downturn. A benevolent Zimbabwean offers free accommodation to a desperate young policeman, who later apparently steals the good Samaritan’s belongings. When the victim visits the police station, he finds the senior police officer investigating the crime actually wearing his stolen belt!
All is not gloom and doom for Eppel. He pays homage to ordinary Zimbabwean women of WOZA in Song for WOZA who stand up to tyranny:
Women of this land arise,
fling your windows open wide,
let the breeze of change, denied,
let it take you by surprise.
Amandla omama!
Taken together, Chingono and Eppel’s writings complement each other beautifully. They challenge the reader to reflect on Zimbabwe’s lost decade. Together is a delightful – sometimes painfully delightful – read worth every penny that reflects on some of Zimbabwe’s most pressing contemporary issues in surprising ways. It also is a volume that begs one to rethink how Zimbabwean literature has been read and theorized over the years.
With thanks to Dr Joseph Chikowero, University of Wisconsin-Madison
from: http://www.hararenews.co.zw/2014/12/book-review-together/