Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Hairdresser of Harare

Vimbai is the queen bee at the Harare salon where she works until one day a man walks in and asks for a job. To the women of Zimbabwe a male hairdresser is unheard of but he soon proves that he is the best around. Understandably, Vimbai is resentful but slowly a friendship forms between the two.

This book manages to highlight many of Zimbabwe's problems in a plot that would not feel out of place in the chick-lit genre. These are people with normal everyday lives in a country that is in turmoil and I think Tendai Huchu does a fantastic balancing act between light-hearted and informative whilst keeping a dark edge. Don't expect lots of detail into the current affairs of the country though, it's a short book and I think explanations would weigh it down.

The character of Vimbai is hard to like at times, her attitude has been shaped by her past and also her cultural upbringing which is so different from my own. Some of her opinions are quite shocking to a liberal reader.

When the book dropped through my door, I was rather pleased to find it had a Joey HiFi cover which is an added bonus. I think I might have to start a collection!

The Hairdresser of Harare is available in the UK through the African Books Collective who provided me a with a copy to review.

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