Negotiating the terrain of The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician
Reviewed by Rosetta Codling on www.examiner.com, April 30 2015
Author: Tendai Huchu
Title: The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician, 2014
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 Maestro, The 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 Maestro, The 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.