Hairdresser was a perfect end of summer read; my book was sticky from sweat and sugary from bubbling peaches that went into the pies and preserves I was making a delicious hair-salon-gossip kind of novel about minding, mending and maintaining social mores. It is a novel about hearbreak, but more seriously, it is also about the inevitable breaks that happen in one s psyche, sometimes accompanied by injury to the physical body, when one s community disciplines in order to reinforce its social and sexual expectations. Neelika Jayawardane"e;Africa is a Country"e;
In this delicious and devastating first novel, which "e;The Guardian"e; named one of its ten best contemporary African books, Caine Prize finalist Tendai Huchu ("e;The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician"e;) portrays the heart of contemporary Zimbabwean society with humor and grace.
Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel s end, the pair s deepening friendship used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind collapses in unexpected brutality.
The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people."e;
The Hairdresser of Harare
Ohio University Press
Modern African Writing