14 February, 2012

#BookReview :: The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu #Contemporary

Plot Summary of The Hairdresser of Harare:

Tendai Huchu's debut novel is a poignant and compelling portrayal of contemporary Zimbabwean society, earning a spot on The Guardian's list of the ten best contemporary African books. Huchu, a Caine Prize finalist known for his work in The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician, brings humor and grace to his writing, capturing the essence of life in Zimbabwe.

The story follows Vimbai, the top hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo's salon, as she becomes acquainted with a charming and smooth-talking new employee named Dumisani. Despite her initial reluctance, the two become close friends, and Vimbai eventually becomes Dumisani's landlady. As their relationship deepens, Vimbai realizes that Dumisani means more to her than she had anticipated.

However, the novel concludes with an unexpected and violent turn of events that brings the pair's relationship to a devastating end. Throughout the novel, Huchu masterfully explores the complex dynamics of friendship, love, and power, delivering a thought-provoking and moving narrative that lingers in the reader's mind long after the final page has been turned.

My take of The Hairdresser of Harare:

The story starts by giving us a look into Vimbai’s life, background and psyche. She is a single mother, struggling to make a good life for herself and her daughter. She works for Mrs.Khumalo as a hairdresser – the best in Harare. She is mostly in control of her life and almost content with it when enters one Dumisani. Dumisani soon takes over her position in the Salon. In her personal life, bills that need paying keeps piling up. Before she realizes it, Dumisani is living with her as a paying guest. Their animosity slowly turns into friendship because of Vimbhai own nature and also because of Dumisani...

What happens then? Read it to find out the secrets that some of the characters have been keeping.

You have to read the book to feel the betrayals portrayed in it. The characters develop in front of our own eyes and sometimes you see things coming and sometimes (especially if you are like Vimbhai) things just take you by surprise.

What I liked best is that this book gives us a glimpse of Zimbabwe. If you think your country has problems – well then you are not alone. The country’s problems and turmoil is depicted in a fantastic manner. At the same time, it also shows how the people are dealing with it. Some people like Vimbhai, are matured and hardened by their experiences while some just accept things the way that they are.

Also, readers are introduced to certain local lingos and culture. The subjects that are handled in this book may make it seem like a “heavy read” but it’s not. The author has handled the plot and its characters in such a manner that there’s a hint of humour at every turn that keeps it from getting too heavy, yet delivering the actual message anyway. The author, Mr.Huchu, has certainly done a great job in keeping a smooth flow in the story too. There isn’t a point in the book where you would feel that the story is dragging or not moving forward.

What I didn’t like about this book is…. Ummmmmm…. Nothing. There is nothing in this book that I can turn  into its weakness. It’s a fantastic book. 

Review Copy received from the author


  1. Hi, thank you for the follow, I have returned the favour and also tagged you here:

  2. This is out of my element but I think it is a good review.

  3. This looks like a really good book, thanks for yet another great review.

  4. Great review:) Never heard of the book but I think I'm going to read it now.