Saturday, May 30, 2015

'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician' reviewed in The Standard

Book Review: The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician, by Tendai Huchu
’amaBooks, Bulawayo, 2014          ISBN: 978-0-7974-9500-5

Reviewed by Fungai Machirori
The Standard, Harare, May 17 2015

Tendai Huchu’s latest novel offering is a look into the lives of three Zimbabweans as they attempt, to different extents, to assimilate into Scotland, and make meaning of life and the various questions and experiences it brings their respective ways.

It’s interesting that the Maestro is listed first in the title of the book as it is him whom I feel the reader learns least about. An opaque character going through a tortured search for the meaning of existence, the Maestro decides to place all his faith in books – the works of Kafka, Nietzsche, Sartre and others – to provide him the ultimate insight into what is otherwise unknowable. But as he moves further into this world, he realises that it too – just as his mechanical job packing shelves in a supermarket – has its own restlessness, its own tedium.

Perhaps it is inaccurate that I say he is the character least known of, as it is the Maestro whose deepest vulnerabilities and psychedelic thoughts one becomes most acquainted with. It is he – whose ruminations about life and death, whose detachment from a menial life that has become a death in itself – who adds a necessary darkness and dimension to a narrative that would otherwise relate a tolerable sort of daily Zimbabwean strife, a strife punctuated with the usual humour and forbearance that is either our succour or Achilles heel, depending on the way one sees things.

The Magistrate is a man of high repute who has left Zimbabwe because the political environment has become unfavourable to his practice and principles. With his wife now the family’s breadwinner and his daughter developing into a sharp-tongued teen, he has to forge a way within this new home, Edinburgh, and the distorted roles it yields for him.

Still holding dearly to the artefacts of home and memory, he uses sungura music –playing on the Walkman he moves around with – as the soundtrack to his discovery of this new place with its history and foreign majesty. His new interest in sungura (the Magistrate is described as a jazz aficionado), with its typical exhortations and narrations of personal strife, becomes a way for him to understand and console himself. At the same time, it also represents a collapse of distinct class demarcations and roles, something that would be more prominent back in Zimbabwe where diligent consumption of sungura might be considered ‘low class’ for a man of his stature.

The Mathematician is a product of privilege, in Scotland by choice as he pursues his PhD and hangs out with his group of friends who find themselves with far less stability. His is the happy-go-lucky character, young, sharp and witty; his experience of the diaspora is one of adventure and certainly more comfort than the Maestro and Magistrate. While all of the voices are contemporary, I would say that it is the Mathematician’s that is freshest, and also, most startling in its brashness and bravado. It’s quite clear from the onset that you will either love or hate the Mathematician; or that failing, find him completely incomprehensible.
What I found most enjoyable about this novel is Huchu’s ability to make his characters’ language – as well his own – speak to their various circumstances, and to the general theme of change and adaptation. Traffic lights are referred to in Zimbabwean colloquialism as robots, while people are sat next to each other, as per British parlance. There is also a peppering of Scottish English, as spoken for instance by Chenai (the Magistrate’s daughter), which make the characters – and their changes – believable.

Every now and then, the Mathematician’s language features numbers, a reminder to the reader of his cockiness; even his language can’t quite be tamed, or fully accessed. It may also explain the inaccessibility of emotions of rage and anger when they might be suitably justified at pivotal moments in the novel.

The same may be said of the Maestro whose impervious character is accentuated by long blocks of text which never feature paragraphs.

Also, Huchu uses italicisation as a means to convey what I perceive as different extents of comfort within this new setting of home. For instance, when the Magistrate speaks in Shona, this text is never italicised. It is simply a progression of discussion which the reader must accept, whether or not they understand what is being said. With the Mathematician, however, such texts (as well as other points where arrogant emphasis is required) are italicised, giving those points of thought and conversation a character of otherness, or at least potential dispensability. This cleverly shows how artefacts of home – including language – are often negotiated differently depending on a variety of factors including level of comfort in a new space, and level of longing for an old space.

Another striking thing is that by the end of the novel you realise that of all three characters, the Magistrate’s name has never been revealed, his positioning attached to his profession, and social role as Baba Chenai, for “… a name had to mean something, and what more fundamental meaning could be bestowed on person than their relationship to others in the family?” (pg. 241) It is a generational subtlety, in much the same way the Magistrate bemoans the lack of extended family to intervene in sensitive family issues he feels ill-equipped to mediate.   

A lot of effort must have gone into researching Edinburgh as the characters’ ruminations on its terrain are complemented by thoughtful and measured descriptions of the environment and its history. Here, I am reminded of Julius’s contemplative observations of New York city in Teju Cole’s ‘Open City’. In both instances, the writers show a high level of endearment and respect for their settings, as well as a lot of patience and effort in making the scenery as palpable to the reader as possible.

But yet even with all its beauty, Huchu depicts a city with its own dark underbelly where people die alone and lonely, and live in the same way; a place where a shared nationality forms tenuous ties that do not necessarily equate to loyalty or kinship.

The humour is dark; a fracas at an MDC meeting shows up some of the power hunger that manifests even in the desire for change. And a last – and unexpected – twist to the plot in the final pages reveals how so often, the roles and identities we assume are not what they seem at face value.

What I appreciate about Huchu’s writing is that it doesn’t feel like it holds back. You will be surprised and perhaps unsettled at times, but you will have to deal with that or simply stop reading. And stopping, I assure you, would rob you of partaking of a beautifully crafted and poignant world. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

'Textures' - A reflection of diversity

WHEN two masters of the craft of poetry, regardless of any social divides, juxtapose their brilliance, the end result is a distinct, breathtaking product.

Such can be said about the partnership of two veteran poets, John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo, who blended their creativity to compile a joint poetry anthology titled Textures, which was officially launched at the Book Café last week. The poetry anthology touches on a vast range of subjects from different places and befittingly , it was launched on May 21, World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Eppel uses parody and satire in his short poems to paint a vivid picture of life in Bulawayo where he grew up while Muzanenhamo’s pieces delve in phenomenally unpacking life from different angles of the world.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of the launch, the award-winning Eppel said most of his pieces were inspired by the environment in which he lives and he is happy that they had easily blended with Muzanenhamo’s work.
“I grew up in Bulawayo. I feel rooted to that part of the country and that is why most of my poems are centred on it,” he said. “Togara is the most gifted young poet in this country and I am proud of him because I have never seen anyone who is at his level of creativity.”
He said the title came from the Latin word “texere” which when translated means “to weave”, which is what they had both done to come up with the book.
“We took a long time trying to find a title and Textures came as a result of realisation that we are both craftsmen who are interested in the structures of the poems and the content, so we managed to interweave our work into one thing,” said Eppel.
Muzanenhamo said he was not worried about how readers would relate. He said there was always something to enjoy in each of his pieces.
The book has 43 poems — 27 of them Eppel’s and the other 16 were penned by Togara Muzanenhamo.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memory Chirere reviews Textures

Reviewing ‘TEXTURES’, a collection of poems by John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo, published in 2014 by ‘amaBooks. ISBN 978-0-7974-9498-5

Today, Thursday, 21 May 2015, we attend the Harare launch of Textures, a collection of poems by John Eppel and Togara Muzanenhamo. This will happen at the Book Café. The Bulawayo launch was sometime in March and I understand that the book was well received. In one online picture, the two poets are standing very close together. Togara’s face has a satisfied smile as he looks straight into the camera. Eppel appears to be contemplating, almost saying under his breath, “We are finally there, young Togara. I told you.” That grey beard and specks give Eppel a grandfatherly look.

John Eppel is a big name in Zimbabwean writing. He is a serious satirist most of the times and you need to climb up to his high sense of humour to fully appreciate him. You cannot go through Eppel without a re-read. He is master of irony. I tend to pick him in the second or third reading and at every step,  I pick out something new. I do not allow him to frustrate me. There is always more onion under the onion. We haven’t met (having only read his works that are everywhere in Zimbabwe) and I do not yet know the texture of his voice or the feel of his hand.

If we meet today I want to ask him, “What are all those birds doing in your latest poems?”  In our country there are many birds that sing, good and bad. Some stand for death and some- good fortune. That brings me to Eppel’s poem, ‘Cape Turtle Dove’ which I enjoy immensely because I have also been very close to doves all my life. Of all the habits of the dove, the persona here is most touched by dove song which is haunting ‘like well-loved landscapes lately lit’. And the poem ends. The poem brings me back to the veldt with a deep sense of nostalgia. I am lost in my childhood when a dove was as commonplace as maize seed and the bushes themselves. The dove is the typical character in typical circumstances.

There is also ‘Grey Heron’ in which the bird is first described elaborately like you find characters being described at the point of entry in a detective novel. This particular heron is like ‘some poets’, lonely, calm but sometimes- suddenly swift and aggressive. Are these birds not like the people that we know? This time Eppel puts aside the political subject and goes bird watching! In order to come back rejuvenated? But are these birds not Eppel’s usual political animals now resurrected as birds? But Eppel is not aggressive now when working with birds. He is at his most soulful pitch. He is awestruck by the presence of various birds. He wishes he were a bird, too, far away from the madding crowd. Is age catching up with Eppel? Will I get used to the new Eppel? He is uncharacteristically calm and even prayerful… I am thinking.

Then I come to ‘Golden Orb Spider.’ This is my favourite poem in this whole book because we start with the spider and end up elsewhere! The spider at work becomes the genius; a Mozart, a Marechera, a Thomas Hardy etc. But the spider traps, mangles and kills its victims too, with the help of its web!

Today, if I have the chance, I will ask Eppel, “Sir, I think you come across as lonely!”  In ‘A Surburban Night in August’  there is something of T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock! I mean, the image of the wandering and sleep walking male loner, soaking it all in. Walking slowly in the dark, concerned with the losses of a distant past. I think ‘Looking for You’ is a quest for love lost. I also think the same about ‘Solvitur Ambulando’ where the loner is walking in the moonlight, choosing to solve the problem not by talking but by walking. Being a habitual walker myself, I know how walking heals a troubled mind and how one feels like forgiving the whole world after a long walk.

The sonnet sequence based on the area around the Bulawayo Dams is a must read. But once more, there are no people here, except for the aloes, the rocks and the insects. The persona takes in the world all by himself like John the Baptist- the hermit. It is when you are alone that you are able to place yourself within time. Here is John Eppel’s questing spirit.

I must also confess that I like some of Eppel's word combinations in Textures. Here are some: ‘The world is waiting, trembling like a mouse.’ Then there is: ‘There is something human about aloes.’ I also like: ‘Last night the blue moon brought you back to me.’ Sad. John Eppel is sad. But under that sadness there is the satisfaction that always come out of pining and suffering. Flogging the self in order to arrive at a certain purity and release.

Togara Muzanenhamo’s poems are dense. That is an honest warning! The constant allusions to characters in far away lands and in broad human history, is bound to challenge the uninitiated. He comes across as a very well read and travelled poet. He is always in control.

This poet is serious and unrelenting. And you feel that these poems were written and rewritten because they have deep links with humanity in various climes. You search for your own spot until you find it in his universe of feelings and thoughts. The other fortunate part is that  Muzanenhamo’s style is like the slow bold stroke of a brush. He cascades. He is long drawn. He goes for sounds that words make. He goes for the colour that certain word combinations make. Reading Muzanenhamo is like listening to a cat purring! Or, listening to a distant bulldozer ‘eating’ the terrain, constructing a dam or a leveling an ant heap.

In ‘Gondershe’ the story of the boy with a gun by the sea comes to one very gradually. The boy by the sea has to be seen and felt and he is here to feel and see the sea one last time. Will he shoot himself, you keep wondering. Will he go back home? Or, is the boy not your shadow? The sea is a powerful force in Muzanenhamo’s poems. The sea has a calming effect. The sea makes a useful backdrop to the poem ‘Desire’ where the persona ‘felt good being back on the water.’ It takes the sea for the man to see his woman for what she really is- an invitation to carnal and spiritual satiety. The turmoil is hidden underneath the style.

This takes me to the prose poem ‘Peruvian Sunsets’ where a woman is at one special moment of making love to both a shell shocked man and the old city, right there in a public park at sunset. We glimpse them just a few moments before they are consumed in their gradual but hungry passions. The power of flesh is deeply felt here.

I also enjoyed (but was also dazzled) by what happens to one Uzziah Chikambi in the other prose poem. A man with a ready gun walks towards both a ghost and his very own past. The edges of reality are so blunt that you realize that we often dream regardless of our wakefulness. I also felt the same with ‘Engine Philosophers’ because sometimes we are consumed in work and think about work and its history and the endless yet to be touched futures of those who work tools and engines with their hands and souls.

My favourite poem by Muzanenhamo is ‘Zvita’ because it terrifies me beyond explanation. I also am in the habit of constantly thinking about what happens to the body when it dies or after it is buried or when it is abandoned out there, unburied. Forbidden territory! How does it help you to think about a body’s condition after burial? That is why human bodies have to be buried...But you find yourself going in that direction. Maybe because the body is the only real terrain we have between ourselves and the world itself. ‘Zvita’is not a poem for the faint hearted. The body is a very fragile and temporary thing.

Textures is a collection with poems that speak about what we see and feel as we glimpse a world that is passing by. You come away with the feeling that the experience of the senses cannot be substituted with any other thing. This is a book about precious feelings.
++Memory Chirere, Harare

Textures launched in Harare

from Panorama Magazine:


Togara Muzanenhamo and John Eppel were in Harare for the launch of their poetry book, Textures, published by Bulawayo-based amaBooks.
The well-attended and engaging session was marked by readings from Textures by the two authors, followed by a conversation the two had with poet and publisher, Ignatius Tirivangani Mabasa. 
Speaking at the event, British Council Director, Samantha Harvey, said they were always looking to see how they can add value to the literary and publishing sector.
The event coincided with World Diversity Day, an occasion set aside by the United Nations International for the promotion of diversity issues. 
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences. But it also requires the need to recognize how much people have in common.
 Addressing a cross-section of guests at the Harare launch, amaBooks’ Brian Jones referenced the opinion of the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, saying:
 “Every poem is unique but each reflects the universal human experience, the aspiration for creativity that crosses all boundaries and borders, of time as well as space, in the constant affirmation of humanity as a single family.”
He said Muzanenhamo’s words in the introduction to the book are apt and quoting the much-travelled poet said:
 “It fascinates me how similar people are. You can go to any country and find we all possess the same emotions; perhaps we speak different languages, and there’s a different landscape, but the baseline to all humanity strums at the same rhythm.”
Muzanenhamo and Eppel, he said, are two very different poets with much in common.
Eppel was born in South Africa, moved to Zimbabwe when he was very young, and stayed, apart from a few years away in South Africa finishing his education. 
Muzanenhamo was born in Zambia, moved to this country when he was very young, and stayed, apart from a few years away in Europe finishing his education. 
Eppel has had four poetry collections published – all in Southern Africa. Muzanenhamo has had two poetry collections published – both in the United Kingdom.
Eppel won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for his first collection, Muzanenhamo was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize for his first collection.
Eppel is well respected as a writer – in poetry and prose, winning the MNET Prize for his debut novel, having his second chosen for the Times Literary Supplement series on the most significant books from Africa, and having five other novels, two collections of stories and poems, and two collaborations with other writers, Julius Chingono and Philani Nyoni, published.
 Muzanenhamo is well respected as a poet – he was chosen as Zimbabwe’s representative to Poetry Parnassus – the greatest gathering of poets in the world that coincided with the 2012 London Olympic Games, as well as attending the World Literature and other international festivals and residences. Soon after this launch he will be heading for Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom for a residency and festivals.
In this collection Eppel’s poems are noticeably rooted in the soil of Bulawayo; Muzanenhamo’s range more widely, from the Arctic wastes, down through North America to South America, across the Atlantic to Britain, the Netherlands and France, down to Somalia and then to rural Mashonaland farmland.
 But, as Drew Shaw says in his introduction, “they both weave words beautifully, making music, and they both adhere to a core structure of poetry – the rhythm, the rhyme…” They are both recognized masters of the craft of poetry.
 Quoting from some of the reviews of Textures, Brian Jones said: “This is a book about precious feelings”, “A journey of wonder” and “A well crafted and creatively satisfying anthology that often oozes with perfection.”
Australian poet Fred Simpson says in his review of Textures: “Their differences are obvious: one poet, grounded in Bulawayo, generally writes short, evocative, personal and structured poems to probe the subconscious and unearth, in heart-breaking beauty, penetrating truths; while the other, a citizen of the world, crafts longer narratives gathered from everywhere, and delivers them in spell-binding voice and imagery. 
“Stepping back, however, we see a pattern emerging, a collaboration that spurns the pettiness of competing poetry schools and prescribed content; we see a portrait of love which takes our breath away. Robert Graves stated that his poetic intention was ‘to mesmerise time with stored magic’. Textures achieves this.”
The launch at the Book Cafe was supported by the Culture Fund and British Council. 
Drew Shaw wrote the introduction to the book; Helen Leiros donated the painting that appears on the cover; and Veena Bhana designed the cover.

Accompanying are some of the images from the Harare launch of Textures. – © Panorama Magazine 2015.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bryony Rheam interviewed on Courrier des Afriques

Bryony Rheam was born in Kadoma, Zimbabwe. Her first novel, This September Sun, was published by amaBooks in 2009. And she is currently living in Ndola, Zambia.

Ake Review: Does African literature exist?
Yes, I think there is a type of literature that would fall under this category, but some books are not always easy to categorise!  Perhaps it’s any novel where the perspective is an African one – the novel may be set in New York or Harare.  Unfortunately, categories tend to be quite limiting at times.  Labels suggest expectations.  For instance, I don’t particularly like science fiction so I may not read a book found in this section of a book shop.  I am making a judgement based on my expectations of that genre.  However, my expectations are affected by what is probably a limited experience of this type of writing.  If I had seen the book in another section, I might have decided to read it.

Name one privilege of being a creative person?
I think you are able to see the world in a slightly quirky mode.  It can often lend you a humorous outlook on life.

Do you engage in any rituals to stimulate creativity?
Washing up, tidying up and any kind of cleaning in general.  I don’t know why I find this works, but I do feel more able to sit down and carry on with my writing afterwards.  Chaos doesn’t help me!

If there is reoccurring theme in your creative work, what is it and why is it important to you? 
Loneliness, probably, especially as one gets older.  I think the world can be a very lonely place for the elderly and it tends to be forgotten that they were young once and that they also have a story to tell. Getting old is one of the most cruel aspects of life, not least because you become invisible.

You’ve been invited to join a handful of other African authors on a special literary performance on the moon. What say you?
I’m not sure about the moon, although I am certain it would be incredibly pretty.  Maybe, as we watch the Earth spinning so far away beneath us, we will realise how ridiculous all these categories that humans divide themselves into really are!

If Africa was a fruit, which one would it be and why?

Probably something like a pomegranate, which doesn’t look too enticing from the outside, but which is rich and red and juicy inside.  I’ve lived in Africa most of my life, but I know of other people who have found it hard to adjust to life here first of all and then don’t ever want to leave!

Name two books you think every African should read and why?
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, because I think he looks at the advent of colonialism in a very interesting way, showing how insidious colonisation was; The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing, because it is just such a moving book which highlights the tension between black and white people at that time in history.

What invention do you think would change the lives of Africans?
Litter bins!  I just don’t understand how people can live with litter all around them and not do anything about it !  Africa is far, far behind in terms of care of the environment.

So, you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Gardening or spending time with my children. I love the 1920s, 30s and 40s so I watch any film set in those ages.

What’s your Africa?
Warm, friendly people, long journeys on dusty roads, beautiful flowers that explode out of nowhere, heat and rain and the crickets at night.

Ake Review (Nigeria)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where to Now? Short Stories from Zimbabwe reviewed in Harare News

Where to Now? is a collection of 16 stories by Zimbabwean writers, published at the time of the inclusive government, hence the title. The Zimbabwean publishers ’amaBooks co-published the anthology with the UK publisher Parthian Books. The collection has been translated into isiNdebele by Thabisani Ndlovu and is titled Siqondephi Manje? Indatshana zaseZimbabwe.

Some of the stories look back to the decade of economic collapse and political conflict, and some look at wider, longer term issues, such as the position of women in Zimbabwean society and the conflict between traditional culture and more modern ways. What is particularly noticeable in this collection is the skill of the writers in bringing a smile to the reader’s face while dealing with serious issues.

There are some well-known names amongst the writers, including NoViolet Bulawayo, John Eppel, Christopher Mlalazi, Raisedon Baya, Blessing Musariri and Bryony Rheam, but new names – to me – are certainly not disgraced. Nyevero Muza’s ‘The Poetry Slammer’, for example, tells of a writer who invents the story of a poetry slammer, X, whose poems tell of ‘the struggle’, and who then joins ‘the struggle’ in an accidental way. Barbara Mhangami’s ‘Christina the Colourful’ illustrates the oppression of women through the tale of an unmarried woman returning to her rural home. The family tries to force her into marriage, but she successfully resists. Thabisani Ndlovu’s powerful ‘Making a Woman’ continues with the issue of the position of women and the pressures placed upon them in society, with Mongi, a woman with hearing difficulties, being abused at the behest of her father, with horrific consequences. NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘Snapshots’ draws smiles and tears as she tells of a young girl growing up in the time of inflation, until her father’s death and her mother’s expulsion from the family home changes her life forever.

Half of the writers in the anthology are now based outside Zimbabwe and some of the stories are also located elsewhere. Sandisile Tshuma’s ‘The Need’ looks at the horror of xenophobia in South Africa as a Zimbabwean woman finds herself fatally assaulted by those she considered her neighbours and friends. The people who attacked the woman forgot their humanity in the frenzy, and how afterwards, “This is the ugly part, where the adrenalin has worn off, your rage has subsided and the collective brain that told you that foreign is bad, that foreign steals jobs, that your brother is your enemy and that ‘they’ all deserve to die because your suffering is yours alone, will have no idea why it thought that in the first place.”

Another story set in South Africa, ‘Crossroads’ is by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, who was longlisted for the 2015 Etisilat Prize. This gives the reader a look at the reality of a young Zimbabwean woman’s attempt to find new opportunities in Johannesburg, but things don’t work out as she had hoped. The relative she stays with warns her, “Things around here are hard. It’s hard if you don’t have any papers and you don’t have any money. All that crap about things being easy here that you hear back home, forget it.”

A third woman writer, Blessing Musariri, in her story ‘Sudden Death’, has her protagonist working in a home for the elderly in the UK. She has a beautiful writing style and certain sentences demand to be re-read. The protagonist and her husband work long, arduous hours to make enough to have a house built back home but their dreams are shattered by an unexpected telephone call from home.
Space does not allow me to mention all the stories here, but this a gem of an anthology. I have read the collection on a number of occasions and still delight in the variety and quality of the offerings found in Where to Now?

Where to Now? is published by ’amaBooks, Bulawayo, 2011.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Examiner reviews The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician

Negotiating the terrain of The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician

Reviewed by Rosetta Codling on, April 30 2015


Author: Tendai Huchu

TitleThe MaestroThe Magistrate The Mathematician, 2014

Genre: Novel

Comfort level: Free flowing reading

Fascinating note: Tendai Huchu’s first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and his book was translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His short fiction (in multiple genres) and nonfiction have appeared in The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter, Interzone, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, The Africa Report and elsewhere. In 2013, he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. He was, also, shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. His new novel is The MaestroThe Magistrate The Mathematician.

Synopsis: Characters are masterfully interfaced (intertextually and politically) with each other in this new work by Tendai Huchu. Readers, prepare to review your English, ‘literary elements’ lessons from secondary school and college. Huchu is a skilled, literary scholar and he incorporates the tools of the trade into The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician (2014). He infuses international archetypes (Robert De Niro, Cervantes, Robert Mugabe, Dostoyevsky, and Miles Davis) into the fabric of the text and events. Imagery, in this work, awaken your senses (the smell of the sadza pot, expresso, and Mexican food), motifs jolt you into the reality of the text (the landscape of Edinburgh, London, and Zimbabwe), enigmatic characters race into your psyche from across the pages (Alfonso, Farai, Stacey). But most of all, the author, Tendai Huchu, creates a plot and a storyline for each of his main characters the maestro, the magistrate, and the mathematician,

and one sees that their lives are interwoven. And we learn that our lives are intertwined with the characters. Is life orchestrated, ruled, and defined as musical pieces, legislation, and equations?
Teenage pregnancy, failed career aspirations, espionage, loneliness, and all manner of human frailty emerge from the pages of this book. And readers will find that this book focuses on contemporary issues which face not only Africa, Africans…but the world at large. Failed economics, failed interpersonal relations, deception, distrust, and nationality are issues which Africans and all people face. The ending will astonish and educate you. Mystery lovers, this is a book for you. Contemporary literature lovers, this is a book for you. This is a book that historians will love too. Sociologists will find candor and relevancy in the conflicts. Political strategists will be impelled to chart the symmetry of the work within the overt structure of the politics within the novel. This book appeals to us all.

Critique: I could not let this book rest. The characters compel you to come into their lair. You want to breath the same air, touch the same ground, and feel the same emotions. The lead characters of The MaestroThe Magistrate The Mathematician are made ‘accessible’ through the craftsmanship of Tendai Huchu. I read the author’s first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare (2010), and found it to be a good book. However, Tendai Huchu’s latest book leaps beyond the scope of his first work. The author advances his skills and his spectrum. It is a joy to see an author take leaps forward. Too often, with success, writers retreat to comfort zones that publishers construct. Huchu does not succumb to this weakness. This new work takes liberty and chances in being fearless about events in Zimbabwe, Britain, and the world. The author teases us and with mentioning places, people, and things that we find comforting. Yet, the end of this book brings us no comfort. A good writer does not seek to appease or console his audience. He/she conveys a narrative of truth. Tendai Huchu succeeds where so many writers fail. I recommend this book for everyone to read.