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The Hairdresser of Harare Paperback – 1 Oct 2010

54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Weaver Press; 2nd edition (1 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1779221096
  • ISBN-13: 978-1779221094
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 754,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tendai Huchu's first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French and Italian. His 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 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. His new novel is The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician.

Product Description

Review

A stunning debut, funny, dramatic with a powerful punch in the end --Drum Magazine

A wonderful novel... The Zimbabwean life left out of the headlines comes alive in this novel... From the beginning The Hairdresser of Harare dives into a world so alive and full of feeling --The Cape Argus

A brave novel for our times... funny, imaginative and succinct --The Standard

lively, clever and ironic --The Witness

This book, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love In The Time of Cholera
--Mango Juice Magazine

About the Author

Tendai Huchu was born in 1982 in Bindura, Zimbabwe. He attended Churchill High School in Harare and from there went to the University of Zimbabwe to study a degree in Mining Engineering. He dropped out in the middle of the first semester, found work briefly in a casino and from there drifted from one job to the next. Four years later he returned to university and is now a podiatrist living in Edinburgh. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story is told by Sisi Vimbai, a single mother, who is the leading stylist in a Harare hairdressing saloon until the handsome Dumisane Ncubi turns up who is an even better stylist than she is, and whom the saloon's owner appoints as the saloon's manager. Sisi is mortified; but Dumi and Vimbai has a spare room. Dumi moves in, and in the course of time, he and she become "an item", and Sisi's little daughter Chiwoniso also becomes very fond of "Uncle Dumi". Dumi's wealthy parents and siblings treat Vimbai as a member of the family, though she is a single mother and from a lower social class than they are. All this is told in a leisurely manner and in pleasant and simple prose in the first two-thirds of the book.

The first two sentence of the novel read, "I knew there was something not quite right with Dumi the very first time I ever laid eyes on him, The problem was, I just couldn't tell what it was." It is only in the last third of the book that Sisi discovers what was "not quite right" with him. It devastates her, and her reactions have terrible consequences.

This central story is set against the background of life in Zimbabwe under Mugabe: terrible shortages for all except the people at the top; corruption; an inflation which means that "bricks" of banknotes are needed to pay for purchases; the lawless "veterans" who can be used by the powerful to beat up their opponents; the terrible risks run by homosexuals in that society.

An easy and in the end a very powerful read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JudithAnn on 13 April 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a really nice read! The writing is very fluent and I was drawn into the story immediately.

Vimbai is an ordinary woman struggling with work and her family (a daughter, no husband, but she has a home help). There are problems with electricity, safety on the streets, etc. Zimbabwe's currency devaluates while you wait and a white customer in the salon may be evicted by armed war vets.

Altogether not an easy time for Vimbai. She's lucky to have a job, though, as there is 90% unemployment. When Dumisani comes to work at the salon, Vimbai feels threatened as he takes her position as best hairdresser in the salon. But she can't help liking him and she becomes more and more involved in his life and his family.

I very much liked the setting and learned some new things about Zimbabwe. The story didn't explain everything about the country, neither was it hard to follow if you don't know much about the country. So, a book that is both interesting for people that know the country, and those who don't.

Vimbai was rather shocked when she finds out a secret about Dumisani. That sounded very realistic. She did however get over the shock a bit too quickly to my liking, a slower progression from absolute shock to acceptance would have been better, I think. But I loved how Vimbai's brother's philosophy club helped her out. Brilliant!

A really nice read that I can recommend to anyone who would like to read a story about a country they don't know much about.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fiction Books on 17 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
In his debut novel, Tendai Huchu has produced a cleverly crafted, many faceted, multi-layered story, rich in storyline detail and character assessment, which highlights the political and social montage of a post-apartheid Zimbabwean population trying its hardest to survive the rule of a regime which relies on fear and oppression to maintain its control.

Rich with character and humor, `The Hairdressser Of Harare', is at once a gripping excursion through Zimbabwe's landscapes and the poignant and often sad story of two people drawn together by mutual rejection from their respective families, illustrating only too vividly that wealth and position play no advantage in the human morality stakes, only in its ability to mask the truth and maintain a facade.

When we first meet Vimbai, she is a young woman who has plenty of history. Coming from an impoverished background, naive and beguiled by the bright lights, when she is raped and left pregnant by a philandering, smooth-talking rogue, she is disowned by her parents, for bringing shame on the family and is left to fend for herself and her child. She guards her daughter jealously, vowing to afford her every opportunity in life to better herself and with her innate sense of pride and determination to improve their quality of life, she takes full advantage of every opportunity afforded to her. From time to time we see this desire to rise up the social scale, overtake her thinking and start to question her morality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Noia on 13 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
The Hairdresser of Harare depicts the life of single mother Vimbai, who lives in Harare in Zimbabwe. Vimbai is queen bee at the hair dressing salon where she works and she knows it. One day the most unexpected and unlikely competitor walks in the door - the young man Dumi, a natural talent at styling hair, who charms everybody but Vimbai, who is both jealous and ill-at-ease over the newcomer.

We follow the entire story through Vimbai's eyes and I love that woman. I was very dubious at first, but once I realised how realistically the author depicts her, her situation and her surroundings, I couldn't help but fall for her. She is a strong woman, proud of her independence, but not too proud to not accept good help when offered. The book tells her story through her eyes and we follow her as she grudgingly accepts Dumi's friendship and discovers that so much more is within reach, but also realises that not all is at it appears and is forced to make a decision that can have dire consequences.

As mentioned above the setting is very realistic. The poverty, the corruption, the question of race and culture - it all paints a very clear picture: Zimbabwe is not an easy country to live in. Having recently been to Kenya, I felt I had an even deeper insight in the happenings, having seen just how poor some are and the miserable circumstances they live under - and just how richly others live in stark contrast.

The book is really well written and I strongly recommend others to give it a read. It is much more mature than my usual YA genre, but I truly enjoyed it and wish more knew of this African jewel - it truly deserves much more attention.
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