House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's House of Stone is a remarkable novel, using the intimacy of personal narratives to sculpt the history of Zimbabwe for the contemporary reader
Tshuma’s debut novel is an astounding tapestry of national, familial and personal histories, woven together in one seamless narrative.
Through the skewed lens of protagonist Zamani, the reader is deftly led through the history of Zimbabwe. Accounts of the Rhodesian Bush War and the Gukurahundi are dragged from Mama Agnes and Adeb Mlambo, the mother and father of the family that Zamani so desperately wants to belong to. Zamani’s obsession with the Mlambos is the driving force of the novel; his desperate need to learn their history is fuelled by his desire to replace their missing son. Sympathy for Zamani, however, quickly wanes as the reader comes to understand the terrible lengths he is willing to go through to earn his place as the Mlambo’s son. The strength of his voice carries House of Stone from one deception to the next, yet the heart of the novel remains a tender exploration of what it is to have firm roots in both family and country.
House of Stone is a remarkable novel, using the intimacy of personal narratives to sculpt the history of Zimbabwe for the contemporary reader. Tshuma has shown a rare talent for creating blisteringly real characters, somehow cementing their authenticity in the unreliable histories narrated by Zamani. [Beth Cochrane]
Atlantic Books, 7 Jun, £14.99