Reading list for Zimbabwe

With all the dramatic change that’s been happening in Zimbabwe over the last few days, here’s a list of fiction and nonfiction that will give you a deeper understanding of the social and political context in which events are taking place.

These books highlight the human toll that political and economic oppression places on a people, from loss of identity to displacement and migration.

    • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Random House, 2013)
      A coming-of-age story, We Need New Names tells of the life of a young girl named Darling, first as a 10-year-old in Zimbabwe, navigating a world of chaos and degradation with her friends, and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States, where a better future seems about to unfold when she goes to join an aunt working there.
    • The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe by Peter Godwin (Picador, 2010)
      In mid-2008, after thirty years of increasingly tyrannical rule, Robert Mugabe lost an election. Instead of conceding defeat, his supporters launched a brutal campaign of terror – Zimbabweans called it, simply, The Fear. Peter Godwin travels, at considerable risk, to see the havoc raging at the heart of his country, but what emerges from the brutality are the heartbreaking tales of resistance and survival, the astonishing moments of humour and goodwill, and the unforgettable characters who will not be subdued.
    • An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah (Faber & Faber, 2009)
      In this astonishingly powerful debut collection, she dissects with real poignancy the lives of people caught up in a situation over which they have no control, as they deal with spiralling inflation, power cuts and financial hardship – a way of life under Mugabe’s regime – and cope with issues common to all people everywhere; failed promises, disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. Compelling, unflinching and tender, An Elegy for Easterly is a defining book, and a stunning portrait of a country in chaotic meltdown.
    • Can We Talk and Other Stories by Shimmer Chinodya (Heinemann, 2001)
      A collection of Zimbabwean stories following the transition from childhood to adult life. Youthful desires for prosperity, love and a purpose in life are undermined as the characters grow up, reflecting the decline in post-independence Zimbabwe.
    • Harare North by Brian Chikwava (Vintage, 2009)
      In this revelatory debut, Caine Prize winner Brian Chikwava tackles head-on the realities of life as a refugee. This is the story of a stranger in a strange land – one of the thousands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants seeking a better life in England – with a past he is determined to hide. From the first line the language fizzes with energy, humour and not a little menace. As he struggles to make his life in London (the ‘Harare North’ of the title) and battles with the weight of what he has left behind in a strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception (both his and ours) is turned on its head.

All these books are available for members to borrow from Libreria.

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