The Hairdresser of Harare: A Novel (Modern African Writing Series) (Paperback)
Selected for the Junior Library’s pilot program for adult/teen crossover books
In this delicious and devastating first novel, which The Guardian named one of its ten best contemporary African books, Caine Prize finalist Tendai Huchu (The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician) portrays the heart of contemporary Zimbabwean society with humor and grace.
Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality.
The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani’s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.
About the Author
Tendai Huchu’s work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, and Italian. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Interzone, Wasafiri, and elsewhere. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize.
“A fresh and moving account of contemporary Zimbabwe….The Hairdresser of Harare ultimately wins us over with the vividness of its setting and characters, and with its reminder of the multitude of rich stories to be found in their daily lives.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Hairdresser was a perfect end of summer read; my book was sticky from sweat and sugary from bubbling peaches that went into the pies and preserves I was making – a delicious hair-salon-gossip kind of novel about minding, mending and ma
“Diasporic writers, presumably granted a bit of historical distance, seem like the most intuitive place to find writing that errs more toward the philosophical than the experiential. And that hunch is not altogether wrong: the Edinburgh-based Zimbab
“This sharp, entertaining, and thoughtful debut is rife with sociopolitical commentary but never loses its humanity…. Through deceptively simple observations and plain prose, Huchu exposes readers to issues of classism, racism, and homophobia without ever coming across as preachy or heavy-handed.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Huchu brings Harare’s public and private spaces to vivid life. These people and places are distinguished by aspiration and failure, international engagement and small-town provincialism, wealth and poverty, family ties and bitter mistrust—and, always, the specter of violence and a tenuous peace.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Huchu brings Harare’s public and private spaces to vivid life. These people and places are distinguished by aspiration and failure, international engagement and small-town provincialism, wealth and poverty, family ties and bitter mistrust—and, always, the specter of violence and a tenuous peace.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune