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‘Ploughing My Own Furrow’
A Guest Post By Tendai Huchu

‘Meet The Authors’ this time, would like to welcome back, author of two successful literary fiction novels to date, Tendai Huchu.

I have read and throughly enjoyed ‘The Hairdresser Of Harare’ and I am almost finished with’The Maestro, The Magistrate And The Mathematician’.

THE HAIRDRESSER OF HARARE

Like very good dark chocolate this is a delicious novel, with a bitter-sweet flavour. Vimbai is a hairdresser, the best in Mrs Khumalo’s salon, and she knows she is the queen on whom they all depend. Her situation is reversed when the good-looking, smooth-talking Dumisani joins them. However, his charm and desire to please slowly erode Vimbai’s rancour and when he needs somewhere to live, Vimbai becomes his landlady. So, when Dumisani needs someone to accompany him to his brother’s wedding to help smooth over a family upset, Vimbai obliges. Startled to find that this smart hairdresser is the scion of one of the wealthiest families in Harare, she is equally surprised by the warmth of their welcome; and it is their subsequent generosity which appears to foster the relationship between the two young people. The ambiguity of this deepening friendship – used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind – collapses in unexpected brutality when secrets and jealousies are exposed. Written with delightful humour and a penetrating eye, The Hairdresser of Harare is a novel that you will find hard to put down.

Read those all important ‘first lines’ here

Check out a couple of mid-way random ‘teaser lines’ here

Share my thoughts about ‘The Hairdresser Of Harare’ here

THE MAESTRO, THE MAGISTRATE AND THE MATHEMATICIAN

Three very different men struggle with thoughts of belonging, loss, identity and love as they attempt to find a place for themselves in Britain. 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 into the fantastic world of literature. The Mathematician, full of youth, follows a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, until their three universes 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.

Read those all important ‘first lines’ here

Check out a couple of mid-way random ‘teaser lines’ here

Hi! I’m TENDAI HUCHU

Image Of Author Tendai HuchuMy first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French and Italian. My short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter, Interzone, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, The Africa Report, Kwani and numerous other publications. In 2013 I received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. I was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. My new novel is The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician.

I am from a small mining town called Bindura in Zimbabwe, although home these days is Edinburgh, Scotland. My interests are reading – a lot, playing chess, and walking. 

Catch up with the latest news on my website

Follow me on Twitter

Writing gives me the freedom to express myself and explore ideas. Life is complex and we are fortunate to have fiction as a sort of Petri dish in which we can dissect life and study it over and over.

Image Of Author Tendai Huchu

PLOUGHING MY OWN FURROW

After my first novel The Hairdresser of Harare, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I waltzed around doing readings and quickly came to the realisation that the draw at most events was Robert Mugabe, not my prose. It wasn’t enough for me to have written, what I thought was, a work of fiction full of humour portraying everyday life in Harare, it had to amount to something concrete in the socio-political domain, I had to be Rushdie-lite. Worse still, the novel had an open ending and the enquiries about a sequel seemed never ending.

I wanted to do something different. A well-meaning editor once warned me, “Readers will only allow you a certain range.” I reckon this was code for, give us more of the same and let’s try to build on that. Well, I can’t even imagine reading the same type of novel again and again, let alone writing the same type of stuff.

But, man, was the new book a monster. I had to try several times to get the right structure that would allow me to tell the stories of the three main characters, who all lived in Edinburgh but seemed to inhabit different universes. The solution was rather inelegant; I decided to have three novellas running parallel to one another with rare moments when one character might stumble into another character’s world. In this I learnt that even though the brick by brick work of the sentences was essential, so was the architect’s plan by which those bricks would be placed. This was very different from the spontaneity demanded by my first novel. I came to realise that I don’t have a specific method, that I’ll have to figure out each book as it comes… assuming there are more to follow!

You can never escape the question: Why did you write this book? I wish I had an answer that didn’t involve so much retro-rationalisation. In fact, if I think of my first novel, I’ve said so much about it, on so many different occasions, that I often contradict myself. The artist’s motivations are seldom straightforward and rarely clear to him/herself. What can I say, I’m Zimbabwean living in Edinburgh and my story happens to feature Zimbabweans living in Edinburgh. Art imitating life, methinks. But a lot of African writers who are migrants or the children of migrants are doing the same thing: Open City by Teju Cole; Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi; We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie. It may seem like a trend, but of course we are very used to westerners coming to Africa and writing about their experiences, so there is nothing really new in what we are doing.

After the rush and the thrill of a new book, the terror of the reviews, you wind up back in exactly the same place you were before the first time you were ever published. The blank page and blinking cursor. Where am I going next?

I’ve been commissioned to translate a Shona novel (Mapenzi by Ignatius Mabasa) into English, which gives me a few months to breathe and not feel guilty about being unproductive. I’m relishing the challenge, but I know, sooner or later I’ll have to start worrying about the next one.

Image Of Author Tendai Huchu

Thanks for stopping by, it was great to meet you

TENDAI HUCHU

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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6 comments
  • So many authors do stick to a “formula”, so I found this post especially interesting and refreshing. I can’t imagine trying to come up with something new each time and admire the thought and effort put forth.

    Thanks to both of you for bringing us this excellent entry!

    • Hi Kelly,

      There are one or two definite similarities between the two storylines, the quirkiness of the characters Tendai introduces along the way, and an instantly recognisable style of writing.

      However on the whole, the two books are as diverse and unique as chalk and cheese,with ‘The Maestro … ‘ definitely having the harder edge to the storyline and also being much deeper and more thought provoking for the reading audience.

      I think ‘The Maestro … ‘ would be an excellent choice for a book club or group discussion, although I truly think that Tendai will have a heck of a job topping ‘The Maestro …’, if there is a third book in the offing any time in the future!

      The next one will have to be very special and unique 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your visits and comments.

    • Hi Tracy,

      Another winner as far as I am concerned, although I just have the last 10 or so pages to read, so don’t know if there is a hidden sting in the tail of the story as yet!

      I shall endeavour to get my review published as soon as possible and can’t wait to see what Tendai comes up with for his next storyline.

      The words from this guest post, which resonate with me the most are …

      “After the rush and the thrill of a new book, the terror of the reviews, you wind up back in exactly the same place you were before the first time you were ever published. The blank page and blinking cursor. Where am I going next?”

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by, I always appreciate your thoughts and comments 🙂

  • Hi Yvonne, the books sound good, especially The Hairdresser Of Harare. Interesting to read the authors thoughts on writing. It sounds like figuring out each book as they come works well for him.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Naida,

      Once an author has found a niche genre in which they enjoy writing, so many of them tend to stick to it and use the same formula over and over. To discover an author who actually tries to write a story with a unique quality about it each time, is rather refreshing, although I should think this is making life rather difficult for yourself and could be a disaster if it all goes horribly wrong for any reason!

      ‘The Hairdresser Of Harare’ is in some ways, much the lighter read, although the issues it touches on, are all too real and potentially dangerous, even in the present day Zimbabwe.

      Both books are well worth the read 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment, I always value your opinions and thoughts.

Written by Yvonne

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