14 February, 2012

#BookReview :: The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu

In a country where homosexuals are condemned by their president as being “lower than pigs and dogs”, where one could be prosecuted and imprisoned for committing “homosexual acts”, comes a story of a young man forced to lead a shadow of a life to avoid the harsh consequences of living openly.
Vimbai, the self-proclaimed number one hairdresser in Harare is livid with jealousy when the good looking, smooth-talking Dumisani joins the esteemed Mrs. Khumalo’s Hair Salon and snatches the number one spot. Against her better judgment Vimbai soon falls under his infectious charm not knowing that Dumisani holds a shocking secret, one that will turn her views of the world upside-down. The Hairdresser of Harare catapults us into the world of Zimbabwe’s elite society, where stereotypes and prejudices are as abundant as the lavishness. It tactfully tackles the issue of homosexuality that most African literature shies away from.

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. 

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook from the author for review purpose. Beside that I did not receive any kind of payment or benefit from the author or the publishers for reviewing this book.  

 This review also appears at the Indie House Books Website. You can check it out here : The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu


  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.