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Annie Gagiano Reviews Harare North by Brian Chikwava

Harare NorthVerdict: carrot

Chikwava’s Harare North (published in the UK by Jonathan Cape, 2009) presents readers with an evocation of conflicted Zimbabwean identities, struggling to come to terms with Mugabean rule in their motherland, with their implication in the maintenance of that power structure and with making lives for themselves in Britain, where so many of their compatriots have inserted themselves (either as legitimate employees or asylum seekers or illegal immigrants scraping a precarious existence) that they have mockingly re-named London “Harare North” (Johannesburg being known as Harare South). The author first came to attention when he won the 2004 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story “Seventh Street Alchemy”; Harare North is his first novel. The narrative so-to-speak entraps one in the fierce, but often befuddled and profoundly troubled mind of an unnamed narrator, who is a young man (he turns 22 early in the narrative) whose murkily complicated reasons for being in the UK are gradually revealed to the reader.

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