Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende Reviews “African Roar 2011”

This resplendent collection of short stories by African writers does indeed roar. The breadth and depth of topic, style, perspective and powerful story telling found within the pages of this treasure trove is enough to make you emit a roar of your own: in appreciation, in agony, in mirth, and in sheer exuberance.

The story by the 2011 Caine Prize recipient, NoViolet Bulawayo, is powerfully evocative of a time and place in Zimbabwe’s history. Her unique use of language and imagery produces a story of a people buckling under economic hardship and political repression. She achieves all this on Main Street- ‘Adjusting her faded black push –up bra so she hold everything together, the police, the expectations, the boiling cars, the broken dreams, the falling dollar, the billions of worthless money, the queues- Jesus- Jesus-Jesus the queues.’

‘Lose Myself’, by Nigerian writer Peter Umez is a tale of love, commitment, temptation, and dilemma. The author does a fine job of creating a protagonist battling for principle over passion. Chukwudi finds himself breaking a vow of fidelity to his wife, a vow taken in order to prove that contrary to what she believes he was not a philanderer, like other men. In the aftermath, the predictable guilt and self loathing ensue.

Emmanuel Sigauke’s story is set in a village in Zimbabwe, where a young man who is convalescing from a mysterious illness is visited by a snake. He suddenly remembers, with the help of his brother’s wife, a prophecy that was made concerning snakes sent by witches intent on his destruction. The snakes portend evil and doom and Sigauke weaves traditional Shona mythology with modern beliefs embodied in the young man, and the result is an interesting story in which at times, the line between myth and reality is blurred.

‘Diner Ten’ is a stand-out story about a community of cockroaches whose lives begin and end in what they call diner ten. The story follows middle aged Radic through his regimented days as part of the community of roaches. Their lives are dominated by the necessity to avoid deadly encounters with human beings. Radic has become bored with his predictable and mechanical existence and he spends time pondering the nature of human beings and whether they see roaches the way his kind view them. He ponders too the meaning of his own existence and whether it is on any intrinsic value, given the fact that danger is always lurking close by and death as close as his own exoskeleton. The story is reminiscent of the 2007 Pixar animated movie Ratatouille directed by Brad bird and like the movie Ivor Hartman’s story is very entertaining and in parts, thought provoking.

Mbonisi P. Ncube’s story telling prowess is on full display in his heart rending story ‘Chanting Shadows’. Zimbabwe’s Land Reform program acquires a human face in this story and the complexity of the issue is not lost in the telling of this riveting tale. The character Mzala Joe is a, loyal, courageous friend who fights to the death for what he believes in, all the while under the watchful eye of young Jonasi. Both Mzala Joe and Jonasi are farm hands on a farm that is invaded by war veterans. The white farmer who owns farm is killed at the farmhouse and the laborers in the field come face to face with the war veterans in a corn field.

The hilariously funny story of a couple’s quest for water is set in housing complex in Accra, Ghana. Isaac Nequaaye’s descriptions of the thoughts and emotions that trying to get water evoke in both the husband and wife are vivid their detail and amusing in their accuracy. The frustration of this couple is palpable as they wait for their supplier to deliver the long promised water. Each is seething with anger at not being able to partake of the normal daily ablutions that require water, and each is holding the other responsible for their predicament.

This collection of stories is wonderful representation of talent from the African continent. Each of the fifteen writers tells their story with great skill, passion and convincing dialogue. Each story has its own distinct flavor. Each story will leave the reader changed. This, after all, is the effect of all great stories.

African Roar 2011 is available through the Kindle platform worldwide for nearly every eReader.

The Eso Won Bookstore Reading and “African Roar” Launch

They came to support, they some bought books, and they engaged us in dialogue. Part of the audience at Eso Won Bookstore Reading and “African Roar” Launch, Los Angeles.

Copies of African Roar in a special display for the event.

This is going to be a long post, full of pictures and reflections. I will be publishing each update as I go, but this may take days to complete.

The reading at Eso Won Books in Los Angeles was a success. Bill Roper and Joseph Mitchell rendered a moving performance, which fit in well with our readings, as if we had researsed. I liked the connection, which led to a performance that kept the audience spellpound, but of course, I can’t speak for the attendees; only they know how the experience was to them. What I liked though was how everyone hung around after the event, asking questions, engaging us in dialogue and asking us to sign books.

Bill Roper playing the horn (vuvuzela) at the beginning of the event. What a fascinating instrument; I remember how it was used in the village to summon people to an important meeting at the chief’s.

Christopher Mlalazi setting up the table with books and art pieces from Zimbabwe. The bigger pile of books is Bryony Rheam’s This September Sun,by amaBooks, a book I have been waiting for. There were other amaBooks titles like Short Writings from Bulawayo III, Long Time Coming, Intwasa Poetry, Dancing with Life (Chris Mlalazi), and others. I had my copies of Forever Let Me Go, State of the Nation, and Speaking for the Generations. Believe me, it felt great to see our books in a US bookstore.

Part of the setting up was to wonder if I had overprepared, if I would not have enough time to read everything I had selected, and surely, I only read a quarter of what I intended.

Daniel Rothman of Villa Aurora introducing us. He worked very hard in making sure the event was a success, and I liked that he took Chris and I to Beyond Baroque, an archival bookstore that hosts poets nearly daily. Coincedentally, there was a reading on Friday evening which featured my friend, LA poet Catherine Daly, whom I have hosted at the Sacramento Poetry Center. She was one of several poets featured as Factory School Poets, all connected by the fact they have been published by the same press. Below is a photo of Factory school poets, which I took after their reading on Friday, July 30:
I don’t have all the names to match with the poets yet, but Catherine Daly is second from right; then from left to right: CA Conrad, Diane Ward, and Allison Cobb. The other names of the Factory school poets are: Sueyeun Juliette, Deborah Meadows, Sarah Manefee, Kathryn Pringle, Frank Sherlock, Brian Kim Stefans,and Heriberto Yepez. I enjoyed the part of the reading I caught, and what I liked most was meeting the staff of Beyond Baroque because they are talking of a poet exchange with Sacramento Poetry Center. So we would invite their poets, and they in turn invite ours, etc.

Joseph Mitchell, on Percussion. His duo performance with Bill Roper was good for our reading, it added resonance.

Christopher Mlalazi reading from Dancing with Life, a book I always knew would go far. He reading of “The Bulldozers are Coming” was touching, and it set the mood for the Charles Mungoshi and Chenjerai poems I read later.

Here I was introducing State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry, which was published in the UK last year and was edited by Tinashe Mushakavanhu and David Nettleingham. I told the audience that it was a key text in Zimbabwean poetry has it marks the latest update in the contemporary poetry, a multi-generational book which mixes classic and new names.

Reading from State of the Nation. My signature style is to read the works of one or two leading Zimbabwe poets before I read mine. This approach grounds me, it puts me in context. I started by reading Charles Mungoshi’s “A Kind of Drought”, which anchors our trust not in people anymore, but in birds, in trees, in rivers. Then I read Chenjerai Hove’s “Nights with Ghosts”, which connects very well to Mlalazi’s short stories about Murambatsvina. In this long poem, the persona reveals that he has written a letter to Samueri, but does not know where to send it as no one has an address anymore. It linked very well with the poem I read next, mine, entitled “A House for Mother”, published in the same book.

Reading from my poetry collection, Forever Let Me Go. I read “The Teacher and the Curtain”, which is everyone’s favorite at readings, and “Remembering Mother”, the most political I have gone in my poetry so far, I think. Of course, it always usually signals the end of my reading segment because of its emotional weight. But I had intended to read “Gonera Bees” and “Forever Let Me Go”, but I wanted to hear more of Bill and Joe’s music.

Judicanti Responsura doing their thing…

The great audience.

Chris reads “A Cicada in the Shimmer”, published in African Roar. The launch part of the event was interesting, as I had the opportunity to explain the process that went into the publication of the book, then I called Chris to the stage. Chris insists that he would not be the best person to explain what the story means, but when he read, it moved us.
I too read from African Roar. I could heard the sound of my story in front of an audience for the first time, and I could tell I needed to work on the female voice of my narrator, but overall, I thought I connected with the audience.

African titles sharing shelf space.

An Evening of Stories, Poetry & Music in Los Angeles with Christopher Mlalazi

Chris Mlalazi

Villa Aurora & Eso Won Bookstore present

an evening of stories, poetry & music with
2010 Feuchtwanger Fellow Christopher Mlalazi, fellow Zimbabwean writer and editor Emmanuel Sigauke, and Judicanti Responsura
7PM on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at Eso Won Bookstore
4331 Degnan Boulevard, Los Angeles 90008

Villa Aurora’s 2010 Feuchtwanger Fellow, Zimbabwean writer Christopher Mlalazi’s novel Many Rivers (2009, Lion Press, Ltd., UK), Dancing with Life (2008, amaBooks), a collection of short stories, and play Election Day (2010), deal with the social disintegration of his native Zimbabwe, where he also contributes light entertainment articles for its major newspapers—a contrast that underscores a practice of self-censorship acknowledged by the 2008 OXFAM NOVIP PEN Freedom of Expression Award at the Hague, which he received with Raisedon Baya for their play The Crocodile of Zambezi. The Crocodile of Zambezi (2008), a satire of the Mugabe regime set in a fictional country along the Zambezi River, was officially banned and members of its cast and crew were harassed and beaten by state agents. Christopher Mlalazi’s work has received numerous honors and awards, including the ‘2009 Best First Published Creative Work, National Arts Merit Award in Zimbabwe’ for Dancing with Life: Tales from the Township, which also received NOMA Award Honorable Mention in 2009; Many Rivers was shortlisted for the 2010 National Merit Award for Most Outstanding Book of Fiction. Mr. Mlalazi has just completed a new novel about pre-election violence under a dictatorship.

Emmanuel Sigauke grew up in Zimbabwe where his interest in writing began at the age of thirteen. He studied English, Shona, and Linguistics and graduated with a BA. From 1993 to 1996 he was the National Secretary of the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe (BWAZ), an organization that has helped groom many contemporary Zimbabwean writers. Sigauke moved to California in 1996 and studied English at California State University Sacramento. He teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, is a board member of the Sacramento Poetry Center, where he hosts poetry readings every second Monday, is the book review editor of the organization’s bi-monthly publication, Poetry Now,. and is also the co-editor of the recently published African Roar: An Eclectic Collection of African Authors. Sigauke has also taught fiction workshops for the UC Davis Extension and in the Hart Senior Center Annual Writing Conference. His collection of poetry, Forever Let Me Go, appeared in 2008, and he has since published poetry in State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry and in journals like Witness, One Ghana, One Voice, and others. His fiction has been published online and in print journals. He is currently working on a collection of short stories and a novel. He blogs at Wealth of Ideas.

JUDICANTI RESPONSURA is a Los Angeles based chamber music ensemble formed in 1984 by tubaist William Roper and percussionist Joseph Mitchell. They perform their own compositions and generate new works from area composers. They specialize in works incorporating Euro-Classical and African-American improvisational traditions. Judicanti’s repertoire ranges from purely musical compositions to multi-media, multi-disciplinary works. The group is represented on recordings released by the Asian Improv, Tomato Sage Consortium and Heliotrope Dreams labels. As individual artists they have worked with the L.A. Philharmonic, L.A. Opera, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Elton John, Yusef Lateef, Anthony Braxton and many others.

Villa Aurora, with its unique émigré history, is an artist residence and historic landmark located in the former home of exiled German-Jewish writer Lion Feuchtwanger. To promote and foster German-American cultural exchange and to remember the European exiles that settled in Southern California, Villa Aurora offers a variety of salon style arts and cultural programs, including public lectures, concerts, screenings and performances. Villa Aurora and the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library at USC jointly provide the Feuchtwanger Fellowship to writers, like Christopher Mlalazi, who face persecution in their native countries.

ESO Won Books is more than a warehouse of reading materials. It is your personal gateway to inspiration, adventure, laughter, healthy living, social etiquette, history, and so much more. At Eso Won, you can count on friendly, down to earth personalized service. An Essential Los Angeles destination in the heart of historic Leimert Park, Eso Won has played host to a variety of authors from Presidents Obama and Clinton, intellectuals Michael Eric Dyson and Cornell West, to comedian Bill Cosby. Eso Won (African for “water over rocks”) is a living proverb as it provides fluid, safe, stirring opportunities that flow to a reservoir of knowledge for both the African and African American experience as well as any other topic you may wish to find.

Eso Won Bookstore (323-290-1048) is located in the historic Leimerk Park neighborhood at:

4331 Degnan Boulevard, Los Angeles 90008
west of Leimert Boulevard, east of Crenshaw Boulevard
south of West 43rd Street & north of Leimert Plaza Park
on West 43rd Place.

New Collaboration for Indian and Zimbabwean Writers

This post was created by Sunil Sharma, an Indian scholar and writer with whom I am planning to compile an anthology of Indian-Zimbabwean short stories. An Indian publisher has expressed interest in taking up this project, but before we make a call for submissions, here is a short writing on the project.

Sunil Sharma is currently Vice-principal and Reader in the English department of Model College, which is affiliated to the University of Mumbai—MIDC, Dombivli (East), in District Thane,state of Maharashtra, India. He is a bilingual critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writer. Some of
his short stories and poems have already appeared in journals like New Woman (Mumbai), Creative Saplings, Muse India (both of them e-zines), Munyori Literary Journal, the Seva Bharati Journal of English Studies (West Bengal), Indian Literature (of Sahitya Akademy, New Delhi), Indian Literary Panorama (Mumbai), Contemporary Vibes (Chandigarh), The Plebian Rag (USA), and Indian Journal of Post-colonial Literatures (Kerala),Kritya (online). Besides that, he is a freelance journalist in English. His book on the Philosophy of the Novel—A Marxist Critique is already published. His debut novel—Minotaurch—is forthcoming from Jaipur (India).

Tentative Title: Nations on the Move: A Salad of Indo-Zimbabwean Contemporary Short Fiction in English

Have you ever visited the sun-kissed Africa?

No, not the Dark Continent of the imperialist imagination but the bright, multi-splendoured Africa from where the first Eve emerged. An Africa that all of us carry in our DNA; home to not AIDS but to ancient civilizations. An Africa seen from an adoring son’s or daughter’s eyes, warts and all.

I have not visited this fascinating landmass of great contrasts. A land ruled by the West-educated corpulent dictators in two-piece suits and red ties who want to crush the indomitable spirit of the toiling masses. They can physically intimidate or kill a large number of silent people but can not crush the rising tidal waves of the popular resistance.

I am talking of this struggling Africa, the Africa of common person’s dreams and the cherished Muse of an exiled poet in London or Paris. True peoples’ land and their global aspirations: very much like my own India with same aspirations, dreams and struggles, despite the persisting bane of the constant threat of the terrorists, militant regionalism and deeply-entrenched casteism. Chances of going to this vast continent are remote also for a middle-class teacher like me who wants to travel around the whole world— Africa included— but does not have the kind of extra dough needed for such a long and eventful journey.

I am not a brutal Henderson trying to journey to an Africa for finding redemption. Nor, the salvation seeking Harry. The Snows of Kilimanjaro are not for me. The Great Columbus was also not my great-great-great- grand father. I do not have such an illustrated pedigree! Marco Polo and Vasco da Gamma are the difficult foreign names encountered first in the history books written/ taught so badly to the poor primary-level kids that they still curse these bold explorers of the yore for making their tiny lives miserable for them. One man’s joy, as they say, is another man’s poison! So, it is clear that the travelling gene is not in my blood. Discoveries are not for folks like Mr. J Alfred Prufrock or Joe Six-pack.

So, I am stuck up permanently in a 24/7 world of repeating sickening news, recessionary gloom, senseless killings and murders, violent rapes, devastating wars, ethnic cleansing, cruel racial attacks, food and celeb-chasing and what not on the idiot box. This wide-screen nonsense can drive anybody crazy. If aliens were watching, they will sure run away in their flying saucers thinking that the lonely planet is the most dangerous place in the entire Milky Way. That is why they come, see and safely retreat to their red Mars or the ringed Jupiter in their super- fast vehicles. The antennae-studded aliens with the glowing oval eyes are right in their spot assessment of the terra firma. Spielberg could not persuade even a single green-bodied creature to stay on the earth for long among the divided humans. Well. Well.

So, how to be upbeat on a bad hair day when every Murphy principle comes true for the poor you? Dining out is so passé and predictable (and costly) these days. You pay exorbitant prices for eating the same exotic stuff in various overpriced hotels that taste the same everywhere and are served by the same white-uniformed bored men with plastic smile and a robotic thank-you. What to do next? How to beat the tedium of a dull routinised existence? Eating out is not a very appealing option for a friendless soul in a crowded city. So, on a stormy night, feeling wretched and lost in a walk-in apartment in London/New York/Mumbai, with TV turned down to avoid further dumbing down in an already dumbed-down commercial culture, what should one do to remain sane, healthy, human and non-suicidal? To break the monotony of a standardized life decided by the cartel of the MNCs for us? To escape from the MacDonald-type of identical worlds of greedy consumption? Or, how to break out of the highly-regulated and highly-regimented everyday reality decided by the transnational capital?

Or, how to recover the colours, the wide-eyed romance, the joy of the first rainbow seen from tiny eyes, when the everyday blasé was a novel mystery for all of us?

In other words, how can I stage my own Truman’s Show and come out of it a better person?

Answer to these fundamental questions is very simple. If I want to make mental journeys during lonely moments, I pick up a writer of my choice. Latin America. OK. Here we are. Yes, Marquez will do, as your companion on the solitary nights…to comfort you. Africa? Hmmm. Contemporary? Well, Ben Okri. Turkey? Well, Orhan Pamuk. Egypt? Naquib Mahfouz. Afghanistan? Khaled Hosseini. India? Salman Rushdie. The list goes on. These gentlemen (feminists, please excuse) pop up from behind the pages of their fat books and become R-E-A-L for you in your bedroom! In this process of reading, you become a citizen of a new land, a new Atlantis of spirit and imagination. You visit these airy realms and feel a strange lightness of being, thus neutralizing the accumulated and deadening toxicity of everyday reality that eats into the finer sinews of your soul.

These writings reclaim a space from the colonial West. Africa no longer is a dark continent but a place where men and women struggle to make sense of their liberated lives under a different kind of tyranny. Bellow’s or Conrad’s Africa gets inverted by Okri and others. These writers tell the tale in reverse gear. The native speaks and speaks in English, but in their English. They sound familiar to the readers waking up, after a long time, in a free world. Caliban is forging his new identity through the former master’s language and appropriates their cultural references as well. This dualism helps. A global language but local contexts. The dubbed films catch this mood , this restlessness the best. In the process, new worlds are opened up like little castle casements on the windy seashores for the curious and the willing. Okri takes you where you can not go alone. You are on a conducted tour.

That is the magic of good writing. It helps you connect with common experiences that sound more or less like yours, yet are rooted in a culture light years away from your grim reality. Basically, all writing is middle-class and reflects the same ideology also. The beauty lies in the presentation of the local scenes; different, yet the same, at the core. For a global reader, new realities bring old shadows where you are self-shocked to see the same truths repeated but in a different idiom and milieu. Like the exotic cuisines that are cooked in standard bases or the international cuisines made in five mother sauces throughout the cooking world.

So, you turn to a book and through empathy and vicarious pleasure, get transported to a reality different from yours in vast degrees but that basically remains human and qualitatively the same. It tells via Faulkner that man can never be down for long and will prevail, or, through Hemingway that he can never be destroyed. This essential humanistic-liberal transcending vision is uplifting for a struggling person or a collective pitted against the economic forces.

Through writing, nations move and come to you very close in the form of a fluid text. So far, English anthologies have been Euro-centric or Euro-African or –Latin American. This anthology is, for a change, Indo-Zimbabwean! Two nations, two post-colonial economies, collide in a common literary space and produce a unique creative synergy. Indians are winning the Booker for long now. The Zimbabwean cousins are equally strong and writing very well. Their experiences of a post-colonial society are more or less the same but the flavours and seasonings are different. The language is English but spoken by two non-native communities/ nations. Through pucca English, dispersed in different cultural contexts (Zimbabwean- Americans, Indian-Americans), these voices bring a refreshingly new vision to the realities of the day for the post-modern/post-colonial English speaking readers for the first time. They open up tiny windows on their individual colourful cultures and invite us to be a participant in this enriching aesthetic experience of feeling a remote culture, first hand. That is the beauty of serious art!

Want to be part of the project? As a writer, you are welcome. Send two shorts, with the bio, to the following editors for this anthology. Let us begin the story. A fiction that tells the truth and brings your country to me in a moving narrative of struggle and human hope…Let us get going N-O-W.

Once there was a wonderful fictionist who brought his nation alive in few pages.

Good luck!

Email stories to: and

Hard Times Have Freed Zimbabwean Literature

Zimbabwean literature in English has a short history, only having started in the 70’s with the writings of Charles Mungoshi and a few other writers. The literature started in war time, when the country was still under white minority rule, which meant that the writers had to exercise a degree of self-censorship in order not to get in trouble. So this early literature was mainly rooted in moralism and the troubles of domesticity. Some, especially that written in Shona and Ndebele, the dominant indegenous languages of the country, was state-controlled, since it was channeled through what was then the Rhodesia Literature Bureau. So the overal effect of the literature was that it was not a threat to the government.

Then came Dambudzo Marechera, a Zimbabwean writer who was based in England, who published his ground-breaking novella House of Hunger, which was a sting on the government of the day, as well as an advance indictment of the upcoming Zimbabwean majority government. It was his writing, in its avant-gardist nature, which introduced defiance and non-conformity to Zimbabwean literature, but for much of the early eighties, immediately after Zimbabwe got its independence, Marechera did not have many followers; in fact, many African readers dismissed him as irrelevant to issues African. To them ,he was not African enough in his writing, so he was not frequently mentioned in matters of African literature on the continent.

Then came the late eighties and all of the nineties, when Marechera had died, and Zimbabwe was going through many economic and political changes. By then he had a large following of young writers, most of whom belonged to one of the largest writers’ organization in the country, Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe (BWAZ). These writers had great promise and revered Marechera’s radicalism and courage in his writing, but not many publishers were willing to risk publishing these young dreamers. So many were discouraged, but a lot continued to work hard on their art.

Up to the mid-nineties, much of Zimbabwean literature had still not fully recovered from the euphoria of Zimbabwean independence, and was therefore still appealing to what had already been defined as the real Zimbabwean literature, state defined. This literature still lacked the courage to pierce the heart of socio-political problems; it was afraid of artistic risk. The promising young writers were receiving rejections, realizing then that to be published they had to present material that would suit the publishers’ needs. And the main market for the literature were students, who could only read “certain” kinds of literature, the “suitable” kind. A Marechera-type book was not suibale for secondary school, neither was a book that seemed not to follow rules, because were the schools not trying to teach the students to be leaders of tomorrow? So there were more years of mediocre literature produced for schools.

But now, when it has become clear to Zimbabwean citizens that the greatest betrayal can come from the leaders of the country, after they have watched overt actions by the government to restrict freedom of expression, the people have lost respect for the government, which has not been useful to them for a long time. The unbearable levels of hardship in the country have taught the people to fight hard for survival, to do whatever it takes to remain alive. Among these people are writers, most of whom are the formerly rejected budding writers who have now matured, with their non-conformist tendencies. Writers existing in the harshest of enviroments, driven by words that defy control. The writer in present Zimbabwe had no time to rest; plots rain from every direction as the country continues to shock the world with its drama.

The Zimbabwean situation has shifted the production of literature from semi-conformist to free and courageous art. First, there is more writing than ever before, with the internet working as an outlet for much of the writing. The large number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora has also led to the expansion of free writing, with much of the new works employing satire both to make people laugh, but also to make direct criticism of failing governance.

Writers like Petina Gappah, Brian Chikwava, and Chris Mlalazi are expert satirists, who write without restraint. Mlalazi’s writing, in particular, is openly political, but because he is a master craftsman, the writing also is at best literary. More Zimbabwean voices are represented in the anthologies published in the country, which show writers like Ignatius Mabasa, Wonder Guchu, Joyce Mutiti, and Nhamo Mhiripiri dealing with the hard times in the country. The writing portrays today’s Zimbabwe, capturing the craziness, but it also manages to show that even in a situation of total chaos, life still finds a way to go on, courageously. Even when everyone has to wonder where the next meal is coming from, literature is still being produced, literature that will define an era and set the trend for tomorrow.

The young writer Tinashe Mushakavanhu, who is based in the UK, speculated at the beginning of 2009 that his may be the year for Zimbabwean literature. This literature, a giant that’s been sleeping for many years is awakening, and, as another Zimbabwean writers, Ivor Hartman, has said, it’s “an African Roar”.

Here are some of the Zimbabwean writers who will open a wide window to the Zimbabwean experience this year: Petina Gappah (whose first short story collection compelled Faber & Faber (UK) to do a transatlantic joint book deal with FSG (New York), a first deal of its kind in the history of book deals. We are yet to see what these publishers saw in this book, but whatever it is, it certainly has begun to work because the book, by the time it comes out in April, would have been translated in numerous languages, including Dutch, Italian, and others. Wonder Guchu has been described as “a literary heavyweight” and he is. He edits one of the vibrant online journals in Zimbabwe, artsinitiates, which showcases the country’s writing today, and what it promises to be in the future. Chris Mlalazi, who is a master satirist and stylist, one of the most courageous writers of the times, whose gems are in a collection entitled Dancing With Life, published in 2008 has several of his short stories StoryTime, a magazine for new African writing, edited by Ivor Hartman, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa.

Not all the writers are polical, of course, but they are all courageous and risky, finally taking Zimbabwean literature to levels that Dambudzo Marechera and  Yvonne Vera would have wanted it to go. This new literature will portray Zimbabwe to the world in its deepest sense; it is a literature of witness, illuminating what William Faulkner described as humans’ tendency of not only enduring, but also prevailing.