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Shimmer's latest is mostly about Shimmer
John Mokwetsi, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
December 10, 2006

RENOWNED author Shimmer Chinodya launched his new novel Strife, published by Weaver Press, at the Book Café with an inspired performance that left some in stitches and others frowning.

A clearly overjoyed Chinodya, sipping white wine, was more than an act on the high table where he sat with brilliant author (Mapenzi) and poet Ignatius Mabasa.

He consistently bellowed greetings to his two daughters and other relatives in the packed Book Café. Sometimes, he even struck a conversation in the middle of an address by Mabasa, who was the main guest.

It became more hilarious when he was asked to read an extract from his novel. With a quavering voice, he struggled through the pages and digressed from the core business to wave to a recognised face in the audience.

Chinodya roared: "Muri kuzvinzwa here vana vangu vasikana? You should know this passage is about that Babamunini. Dudu (Manhenga), are you there my lovely daughter? I wish I had daughters that are as beautiful as you are."

But as he went on reading, unaware of the time allotted to him in the programme, the light on the stage just went off and it was not clear if that was by design or default.

Had somebody had enough?

Chinodya’s book was met with enthusiasm and is likely to sell well.

Strife examines one family’s responses to destiny. Tracing the Gwanangara’s roots back over a century, Chinodya interweaves past and present, juxtaposing incidents never forgotten or resolved, revealing how memory becomes an actor in lived time.

Mabasa said of the book: "I enjoyed reading Strife and was at the same time devastated by the debris of cultural orphans left groping for the meaning of life.

"I said to myself: maybe the meaning of life for Shimmer’s characters is in Christianity which, surprisingly, Shimmer only makes reference to in passing, compared to the detailed manner in which he delves into the Bira ceremonies."

Chinodya said he drew the story from the core of his life experiences.

"People insist I become creative and stop writing autobiographically but I know no other way other than this. So this in a nutshell is a story about my life," Chinodya told Standardplus.

He said it took him six years to write the novel: "You literally carry your work and life in a briefcase for such a long time and it all becomes part of you. Writing becomes a need, a serious one."

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