Title: The Hairdresser of Harare
Author: Tendai Huchu
Publisher: Weaver Press
Publish Date: 2010
Source: Received a copy from the author and The African Book Collective. This did not affect my review.
Why You're Reading This Book:
- You like vibrant characters.
- You're interested in the politics of others countries.
From Goodreads.com: "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 judgement 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."
My Two Cents:
Vimbai, Harare's top hairdresser, is not happy when Dumi walks into Mrs. Khumalo's Hair Salon looking for a job. Dumi becomes a formidable opponent in the Hair Salon but also a good friend and a potential lover when he moves into the extra room in Vimbai's house.
Zimbabwe is not a country that I know a lot about so I was very excited to read this book. This book can be classified as light fiction but it does cover a lot of heavy topics. It covers some of the politics of Zimbabwe and the environment that the people of the country are dealing with. The people of Zimbabwe have a lot to worry about. Their economy is out of control. Unemployment is wildly high. Vimbai must check her young daughter for signs of abuse because it's plausible that her daughter could be abused while Vimbai was away at work.
One of the topics that the book tackles is the issue of homosexuality in Zimbabwe. On that topic, Zimbabwe is pretty conservative. Gay people are seen as not fit to be a part of society. They are seen as being dirty and gross. Being "out" in Zimbabwe almost doesn't seem like it's feasible. You can see why Dumi does what he does in the story.
Bottom line: This is a great book that really brought to light some of the issues of this country in vivid color.