When I first saw the title The Hairdresser of Harare, I thought it was a clever bit of alliteration designed to make the reader remember the name of the book, but that's just me being ignorant. Harare is in fact the capital of Zimbabwe.
The novel is set in modern day Zimbabwe and offers a fascinating glimpse into life there, including things that I'd never even thought about before - living in an economy with hyperinflation, the rule of president Mugabe and his guerilla movement against white-minority (I remember seeing the violent land seizures from white Rhodesians, but never really thought about what happened to those who stayed behind) and the different prejudices that are ingrained in society.
The novel focuses on a hair salon in the capital. Chief stylist Vimbai is used to being queen bee at the salon so when a newcomer, Dumisani, comes and steals her place at the top of the pecking order, her ego takes a bashing. Having a male hairdresser is unusual enough, but he also wants to shake things up, promoting safe sex and updating the hairstyles offered, taking his inspiration from American magazines. He will soon worm his way into the hearts of his clients and co-workers.
But Dumi has a deep dark secret that will push his friendships to the limit. It's a timeless tale of loyalty and betrayal, prejudice and intolerance, that is also firmly anchored in the explosive context of modern day Harare.
Despite the poignant storyline, it is a book bursting with humour and I found that I could really relate to the characters.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £8.99
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Freight Books (18 Mar 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1908754117
- ISBN-13: 978-1908754110
- Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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