Thursday, June 4, 2015

Online Book Club review of The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician

Post Number:#1  Description: ostby whero » 14 May 2015, 04:30
[Following is the official review of "The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician" by Tendai Huchu.]

4 out of 4 stars

Review by whero

The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician by Tendai Huchu, Published by ‘amaBooks.

Tendai Huchu is from Bindura, Zimbabwe but currently lives in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The Hairdresser of Harare is his first novel, released in 2010 by Freight Books. Tendai Huchu’s short fiction and nonfiction writing has also appeared in multiple journals including The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter Interzone and more.

This book follows three protagonists with loosely interwoven lives as they struggle to deal with the problems of life both great and small. They are all members of the Zimbabwean expat community in Edinburgh, but their reasons for moving are each different, though related to the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy after President Robert Mugabe ordered the takeover of white-owned farms. This location is very important to all the protagonists as it contrasts so strongly with their previous lives and location. Tendai Huchu’s knowledge of Bindura, Zimbabwe and Edinburgh really shows through strongly as he describes specific bus routes, roads and shopping areas around Edinburgh. The themes of the book are love, belonging and place, and the far reaching consequences of economic and political downfall which I think places this book in the Literary Fiction or Other Fiction genres, Huchu is asking some big questions as he describes what seems like the small incidents of everyday life.

This book fascinated me, from start to finish. Tendai has a slow burning style, taking care to describe each scene and the protagonists’ thoughts so that we build pictures of them long before we understand their role in the story. Tendai has no trouble differentiating the protagonists, using different language and mannerisms between them. The book focuses often on the tensions of the expats trying to make new lives in a very different city and country when they didn’t really want to leave in the first place. The characters keep a close watch on events in their homeland, hoping that the economic situation will change enough for them to go home. The ultimate message of the book seems to be that you cannot simply escape the economic and political woes of your home country just by leaving. Each of the protagonists has to find meaning to their lives again and this book follows those journeys.

Overall the book has no real issues, however if I was to be hyper –critical I would note that Huchu has used many sentences and words in Shona without translation. Book would be much improved with a glossary or translations in footnotes or both. While I would say that the tone of writing definitely benefits from having this language used, finding proper translations on the internet is quite hard, so they should have been included in the book.

I give this book 4 out of 4 stars because it was a very well-constructed story that kept me interested to the last page. I think this book would interest most people, as Tendai Huchu writes about supremely relatable issues; however it is probably unsuitable for minors due to having violent and sexually explicit scenes.


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