Character Development 4
In his book, Mr Huchu introduces us to his hometown of Harare in Zimbabwe. We learn of its culture and people through the eyes of Vimbai - the best hairdresser in Harare. The best, that is, until Dumisani shows up and gives her a run for her money. Who ever heard of a male hairdresser anyway?
It was so much fun to be the fly on the wall of Vimbai's life. I felt like I was right there with her at work trying so hard to be the best so that her job would be secure. How could she provide for her daughter or run her household if she lost her job?
Life isn't all doom and gloom, worry and work, though. There is lots of humour interwoven and it doesn't take long for the reader to fall in love with Vimbai. Or for Vimbai to fall in love with Dumisani.
As they say, it's all fun and games until somebody loses and eye. 'The Hairdresser of Harare' starts out fun and the reader is having an enjoyable time learning about Zimbabwe. Pretty soon, though, a feeling of unease creeps up the reader's spine. Is Dumisani keeping a secret? A little black shadow starts sliding around the edges of the story and then it happens - BAM!! 'The Hairdresser of Harare' turns into a powerful, unforgettable novel that challenges everything Vimbai (and maybe you) believes in. It becomes uncomfortable and sad all at once and then moves to bittersweet. Who knew how powerful 14 small words could be?
I shall regret the next thing I did for as long as I live (pg 170)I certainly don't regret reading 'The Hairdresser of Harare'. It is an enjoyable and powerful work. There are a lot of foreign words running through the dialog but they are easily understood in context. The level of systemic corruption may be difficult for some readers to accept but (having lived for a time in a corrupt country) is a reality in most third world countries. Although the ending left some unanswered questions, it was satisfying. Hopfully we will hear more from Tendai Huchu (and maybe Vimbai) in the future!