Robert Mukondiwa PIC: COURTESY OF ZIMONLINENEWS.COM

Judas Files reveals Mukondiwa’s resilience

“My parents taught me to fight and that one is never entitled to favours so I made it a point that I would publish the book against all odds and it is only best that I dedicate this nomination to my dad who passed away last year as well as my mother, who shall make the trip to Harare for the awards gala,” said journalist-cum-author, Robert Mukondiwa. Read more

Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah has two books on 2016 Guardian best books list & you can party with her this weekend

It’s been an awesome year for Petina Gappah. The Zimbabwean writer, who made international headlines when she won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009, has two new books and both are receiving rip-roaring reviews and massive global attention.

Zimbabwean readers of her work can not only see her this weekend, but party with her as well. Gappah will be in conversation with another Zimbabwean-born writer, Paula Hawkins, who, in just under two years, has sold over 15 million copies of her now globally famous 2015 novel, The Girl on the Train. To top that off, the book has been made into a hollywood blockbuster which grossed over US$156 million at the box office.Rotten Row by Petina Gappah

The event, organised by Creative Zimbabwe Trust as the Zimbabwean launch of Rotten Row and as a way of celebrating Hawkins’’ success, takes place at Reps Theatre on Saturday, December 3. There will also be a dramatic reading of work by the two authors hosted by Chipo Chung and directed by Zane Lucas.

The authors will then mingle with guests at an after-party at Gava’s Restaurant.

Gappah has been invited to numerous literary festivals this year, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival (Australia), the Writers Unlimited Festival (The Hague), the Cúirt International Festival of Literature (Ireland) and the Auckland Writers’ Festival (New Zealand).

Her long-awaited novel (we started waiting when she told us in 2009 that it was coming soon), The Book of Memory, hit the bookstores in 2015 and started receiving accolades shortly  afterwards.

ThisisAfrica.me named it one of Africa’s top fictional books last year. Early this year it was long-listed, along with 19 other books, for the £30,000 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the short-list, but it continued making waves in other oceans.

It has been reviewed and discussed by numerous publications, from NPR to the LA Times to the New York Times. Nichole Perkins, writing for The LA Times, said it was “a vivid and powerful debut novel.”

Writing in What’s On Africa, Desne Masie, says, “Indeed, Gappah’s prowess as a writer brings the inside of Zimbabwe’s notorious Chikurubi Maximum Prison vividly to life from the novel’s pages.”

Audio: Gappah speaking at the Auckland Writers’ Festival earlier this year.

The New York Times was less excited about the book than others. Becca Rothfeld said of it, The Book of Memory contains all the elements of made-to-order profundity, copied from the familiar templates… Its characters, a motley crew who practically scream “troubled,” are themes unconvincingly personified… Gappah describes rather than animates, dragging her ensemble from chapter to chapter without allowing its players to move of its own accord.”

As I said before, waves in other oceans – and there are many oceans. The Book of Memory was recently listed by The Guardian, along with Gappah’s second collection of short stories, Rotten Row, as one of the best books of 2016.

And that brings us to her second new book, Rotten Row.The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Michelle Johnson summarises it thus in her review for World Literature Today, “Petina Gappah’s new collection of stories is named after the street where the criminal courts in Harare sit: Rotten Row, where the powerful avoid punishment with a bribe and if the mob mentality doesn’t get you, a pothole probably will.”

“A distinctive quality of Gappah’s fiction is that, while the events she depicts are invariably tragic, the writing itself feels upbeat, excited, writes William Skidelsky in his review of the book for the Financial Times.

Gappah, who is obviously excited about Saturday’s event, wrote recently on h
er Facebook profile, “Honestly, the news of the event on Saturday spread like makuhwa in a farm compound 🙂 It spread faster than the fires on the hilltops that announced the first Chimurenga… Whatever our success on Saturday, you are a part of it. You make castle GREAT! Now, let’s get those last tickets selling!”

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