When he lands in Harare North, our unnamed protagonist carries nothing but a cardboard suitcase full of memories and a longing to be reunited with his childhood friend, Shingi.
He ends up in Shingi's Brixton squat where the inhabitants function at various levels of desperation.
Shingi struggles to find meaningful work and to meet the demands of his family back home; Tsitsi makes a living renting her baby out to women defrauding the Social Services.
As our narrator struggles to make his way in 'Harare North', negotiating life outside the legal economy and battling with the weight of what he has left behind in strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception is turned on its head.
This is the story of a stranger in a strange land - one of the thousands of illegal immigrants seeking a better life in England - with a past he is determined to hide.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 01/04/2010
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099526759
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by reluctantm
I really wanted to like this novel. It's in one of my favourite places in the entire world (London). It has lots of references to my favourite place to read about (Sub-saharan Africa). But I couldn't do it. It just didn't work for me. I felt it started out strong, but by the end, I had no investment in any of the characters. The fatal flaw is the protagonist. He's unlikeable, which in and off itself isn't a problem, there are plenty of unlikeable protagonists, but that Chikwava doesn't give him enough emotional depth that I felt interested in how his story would play out. He just does stuff without any real sense of consequence, and I just didn't care by the end. So strong start, then sort of fizzled out.
Review by MyneWhitman
I bought this book based on some other reviews I had read elsewhere and maybe I shouldn't have. The story, from the much I read, was quite interesting. It followed the life of an asylum seeker, newly arrived in England from Zimbabwe, and trying to find his footing in this new place and culture, and at the same time become a permanent resident. He ends up moving out of his cousin's place and in with another group of immigrants. That was where I stopped. The narrative was in such a tortuous narrative that I got a headache each time I picked it up, and before I could finish a couple of pages.