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Harare North (2009)

por Brian Chikwava

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706300,548 (3.25)21
As our narrator struggles to make his way in 'Harare North', negotiating life outside the legal economy and battling with the weight of what he as left behind in strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception is turned on its head.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I didn't get the dark humour till late in the book, and didn't see the twist coming. May be worth a second read. ( )
  Moomin_Mama | Jul 30, 2016 |
I bought this book based on some other reviews I had read elsewhere and maybe I shouldn't have. The story, from the much I read, was quite interesting. It followed the life of an asylum seeker, newly arrived in England from Zimbabwe, and trying to find his footing in this new place and culture, and at the same time become a permanent resident. He ends up moving out of his cousin's place and in with another group of immigrants. That was where I stopped. The narrative was in such a tortuous narrative that I got a headache each time I picked it up, and before I could finish a couple of pages. ( )
  MyneWhitman | Jun 21, 2011 |
I really wanted to like this novel. It's in one of my favourite places in the entire world (London). It has lots of references to my favourite place to read about (Sub-saharan Africa). But I couldn't do it. It just didn't work for me. I felt it started out strong, but by the end, I had no investment in any of the characters. The fatal flaw is the protagonist. He's unlikeable, which in and off itself isn't a problem, there are plenty of unlikeable protagonists, but that Chikwava doesn't give him enough emotional depth that I felt interested in how his story would play out. He just does stuff without any real sense of consequence, and I just didn't care by the end.

So strong start, then sort of fizzled out. ( )
  reluctantm | Mar 22, 2011 |
Harare North, aka London, is the new home of an unnamed young man from Zimbabwe. Escaping the trouble he's got into because of his activities as a member of Mugabe's youth militia, the man intends to stay in the UK long enough to earn the £5,000 he needs to pay back people at home. He claims asylum on arrival, gets taken to a detention centre and is later released into the care of his cousin with a few pounds in his pocket. It's immediately clear that he is not welcome in his cousin's house so he hooks up with his childhood friend Shingi who has been is living in a squat in Brixton, south London.

Harare North is the story of this young man and his journey through the underbelly of London life. The young man is an unreliable and unlikeable narrator but he is fascinating. The observations about British life as seen by a new arrival, which have been tackled by many other writers, feel fresh, interesting and funny. For example, the narrator believes that pubs with names like The Queen's Head and The Kings Arms are commemorations of a British propensity for dismembering royalty!

This is also a domestic story; much of the action plays out in houses, perhaps a nod to the fact that the lives of people awaiting asylum approval are circumscribed by the prohibition on them seeking work. And food is really important from the very first page with the description of the 'white ice-cold sun hanging in the sky like frozen pizza base'. Family also feature prominently, particularly those left behind who send requests for money and gifts in the belief that their son must be making his fortune in Harare North.

It's a great debut novel - I can't wait to read what Chikwava writes next. ( )
2 vote charbutton | Oct 3, 2010 |
I read this on an LT ecommendation. A somewhat satiric, at times bleak look at the lives of immigrants/asylum seekers from Zimbabwe in London (the Harare North of the title), as well as other poor people who are largely unseen in the bustle of a major city, flavored with politics, exploitation of all kinds, and a grim sense of humor.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Apr 20, 2010 |
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As our narrator struggles to make his way in 'Harare North', negotiating life outside the legal economy and battling with the weight of what he as left behind in strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception is turned on its head.

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