Author Profile: Shimmer Chinodya

Shimmer Chinodya; Photographer Unknown.

Shimmer Chinodya was born in 1957, in Gweru, Zimbabwe (at the time of his birth, it was known as Gwelo, Rhodesia). Shimmer Chinodya is one of Zimbabwe’s most famous writers. His work includes Dew in the Morning (1982), Farai’s Girls (1984), Child of War, Harvest of Thorns (1991), Can We Talk and Other Stories (1998), Classroom plays for Primary Schools (1986), Traditional Tales of Zimbabwe Book 1-6 (1989), Poems for Primary Schools (1990), Chairman of Fools (2005). He won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Harvest of Thorns.

Dew in the Morning (1982)

Dew in the Morning is a sharply-perceived evocation of changing life in rural Zimbabwe during the 1960s and 1970s.

Narrated from the point of the view of a young boy, Godi, it follows the fortunes of a city-dwelling family who establish a small farm in the country. Like the other newcomers to the area, they are called on to adapt to unfamiliar customs and moral codes. But the village way of itself is undergoing change. Godi observes the distressing incidents that mark this inexorable process as the villagers strive to resolve tensions between the conflicting value-systems and ambitions.

Meanwhile, Godi experiences moral growth and sexual awakening, conveyed by the author with a fresh and unjudgmental eye, which deepen the reader’s sense of the delicate balance between progress and loss that accompanies the passage of time – Heinemann

Tale of Tamari (2004)

Tamari is fourteen. Her parents have died and she lives with her brother, Kuda, in their home where the rooms have been let to lodgers. Her Uncle Banda supposedly keeps an eye on them, but is more concerned about how much money he can make from the tenants. The Tale of Tamari is not a sad or didactic story, but one which delights us with its freshness and its empathy, besides giving us a richly varied slice of life in Zimbabwe today as orphans make their way into a future. – Weaver Press

Chairman of Fools (2005)

Chairman of Fools examines the plight of a supposedly successful writer, and professor of literature, Farai Chari, an ambitious artist whose self-confidence is under threat. Increasingly paranoid, he feels the pull of tradition and culture and the hollowness of middle-class aspirations in a cruel country.

He years for a world in which men and women can freely associate with one another, students respect their teachers, wives honour their husbands, and he can enjoy the freedom to gratify his passions without chastisement. Whether examining the fears and prejudices associated with mental breakdown, male chauvinism or moral self-righteousness, Chinodya consummately combines humour and pathos and absurdity with seriousness. Is our hero an ingenuous, self-indulgent fool or a brave, self-aware man with the strength to overcome his own weaknesses and prejudices? – Weaver Press

Can We Talk and Other Stories (1998)

The first stories, 'Hoffman Street' and 'The Man who Hanged Himself' capture the bewildered innocence of a child's view of the adult world, where behaviour is often puzzling and contradictory; stories such as 'Going to See Mr B.V.' provide the transition between the world of the adult and that of the child where the latter is required to act for himself in a situation where illusions founder on a narrow reality. 'Among the Dead' and 'Brothers and Sisters' look wryly at the self-conscious, self-centred, desperately serious world of young adulthood while 'Playing your Cards', 'The Waterfall', 'Strays' and 'Bramson' introduce characters for whom ambition, disillusion, and disappointment jostle for attention in a world where differences of class, culture, race and morality come to the fore. Finally, in 'Can we Talk' we conclude with an abrasive, lucid, sinewy voice which explores the nature of estrangement. The charge is desolation.

Can We Talk and Other Stories speaks of the unspoken and unsaid. The child who watches but does not understand, the young man who observes but cannot participate, the man who stands outside not sure where his desires and ambitions lead, the older man, estranged by his own choices. 'Can we Talk' is not a question but a statement that insists on being heard, and demands a reassessment of our dreams.

- Weaver Press

Child of War (1985)

(Child of war is written under Shimmer Chinodya’s pen name Ben Chirasha)

The war of independence for Zimbabwe is spreading across the country, involving everyone, young and old. Hondo, a young herdboy, the only child of his widowed mother, is swept up into the fighting by the charismatic commander of the local guerrillas. He and his age-mates experience the horrors and tribulations of war and find that, though forgiving is easy, forgetting is much harder. – Macmillan Africa

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