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Super league of local books

Beaven Tapureta Bookshelf
In the Bookshelf, there are about 25 books of different volumes and genres published last year, some reviewed and others yet to be ‘examined’, but interestingly, there is no senior writer’s name on the list.

Though the list is not as exhaustive as to be a basis for measuring the complete Zimbabwean literature published in 2018, it somehow provides certain inklings to where the road is leading. As new writers invaded the literary space mainly obsessed with the novel, poetry, motivational writing forms, apparently circumventing the short story and children’s books, established authors seemed to withdraw a bit, assisting the new authors in the background.

The mother languages were generally shunned, and in the Bookshelf three 2018 Shona novels sadly glare at the nearby mountain of works written in English. New writers Johannes Mike Mupisa and Prosper Njeke gave us novels “Shukukuviri” and “Dura Rematambudziko” respectively, with award-winning Daniel Mutendi appearing towards year-end with his “Mazai Emheni”. Tinashe Muchuri, from whom we expected his second Shona novel, was not able to publish it last year and hopefully he will not keep us waiting again this year!

English poetry competed with motivational writing, in fact the later make up a hill of eleven books! There has been an outcry from critics for motivational writers to bring in some innovative, real-life spices in their stuff rather than dwelling on the overly outsourced and didactic gospel of self-development and success. Autobiography and writing skills or technique, which seems to lack in the new writers, can enrich motivational writing as shown in books such as Pastor G’s “Indestructible” (2018) which fuses the story of his life as a gospel musician and how God can perform wonders in others also.

The novel in English received a steady consideration by Zimbabwean writers last year and mainly by those in the diaspora. All the five 2018 novels in the Bookshelf have been written by writers living outside the country. Apart from Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s “House of Stone” which put a lid on the literary year, there is “The Next Of Kin” By Olivia Christian Paarsche, which uses the dream and memory, and “The Rise of the Vaesons” By PJ Odendaal. And just like works of research and biography which were few, the novel in English didn’t get much attention and perhaps, it bespeaks of how busy writers are with matters of life that they now have little time for the tiresome writing of novels.

Shepherd Mutamba’s second edition of “Tuku Backstage” stands out as an ineluctable inspiring work of both biography and resource for the upcoming artists in general.

The poetry field, with which most young writers felt comfortable, didn’t come with many surprises though it saw the rise of fresh voices like Tabeth Manyonga, Christine Nhamo, Tsitsi Abokoe Muchokwani, and Edward Dzonze. The  anthology “Zimbolicious: An Anthology Of Zimbabwean Literature And Arts Vol 3” (Mwanaka Media And Publishing), also launched last year, is a book that confirms the many gifted poetical voices Zimbabwe has.

And while Batsirai Chigama’s “Gather the Children”, Philani Nyoni’s second edition of his collection “Philtrum”, and others using English shine with a certain mature consciousness of what poetry means, the poets writing in mother languages were not visible and let’s hope this year they come on stage.

Despite the challenges, in the background of all this publishing and book launches, there were also Zimbabwean writers scooping awards elsewhere, and wonderful annual events such as the ZIBF, the Norton Children’s Book Festival and Business Expo, writers’ meetings, HIFA, and online workshops. Writer Catherine Magodo moved another step forward last year when her 2017 novel “Broken Vessel” was adapted into a film and then she, in recognition of her writings which fight against violation of women’s rights, scooped the African Literature Award at the inaugural IBHUKU Women Authors Exhibition Festival held in South Africa.

Source : The Herald

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