Selected for the Junior Library’s pilot program for adult/teen crossover books, the hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu is a novel first published in 2010. It chronicles an account of contemporary Zimbabwe seen through the eyes of the eponymous character of the book, a hairdresser called Vimbai working in Harare. In this delicious and devastating first novel, which The Guardian named one of its ten best contemporary African books, Caine Prize finalist Tendai Huchu (The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician) portrays the heart of contemporary Zimbabwean society with humor and grace. This article will give you access to download the hairdresser of harare by Tendai Huchu pdf as well do the following:
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Summary of the hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
The Hairdresser of Harare is the story of two main characters; Vimbai and Dumisani. Vimbai is the star hairdresser at the Khumalo Hair and Beauty Treatment Salon in Harare, Zimbabwe and the story is told with her as the main character. She has a young daughter who she lives with in a home she inherited from a brother who was working in the UK before passing on. The home where she is living in with her daughter and house help is the reason she is estranged from her family as she refused to allow her brothers take over the one thing her brother left for her. Her life is moving along fine with the usual things that a woman who works in a salon has to deal with, school fees colleagues et al, until Dumisani walks into the salon one day and all hell breaks looks. First off, Dumi quickly takes over the role of “best hairdresser” at MaKhumalo’s and our Vimbai is forced to changed her attitude as her job is no longer guaranteed as before.
The model employee Dumisani then sees a revolution at the salon, changing the posters they had hang around, changing the music to more mordern fare, starting to sell products for birth control and and and… The revolution is truly on. He even engineers it so that everyone gets a salary increase. With the successes MaKhumalo expands and opts to hire a manager for her salon and guess who gets the big job? Not former favourite Vimbai but new golden boy Dumisani. It all looks bleak for Vimbai until Dumisani has to get a new place to live and he moves into Vimbai’s home as a tenant. The enemy at home now becomes an ally and they even start some sort of relationship. A relationship, platonic one mind you, that leads to her meeting her tenant and new “boyfriends” family which is a rich and prominent one.
Eventually she discovers some deep dark unpalatable secrets about the man who she is rapidly falling in love. I’ll give you a clue; the guy works as a hairdresser. He loves everything to do with fashion and hair. He will not have sex with a hot woman alleging that he will prefer to wait until marriage. 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.
About the author- Tendai Huchu
Tendai Huchu born in Bindura on September 28, 1982 and also writes as T. L. Huchu is a Zimbabwean author, best known for his novels The Hairdresser of Harare (2010), The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician (2014). . He studied Mining Engineering at the University of Harare and dropped out in the middle of the first semester, and from there had various jobs, including working in a casino. His writing career began in 2010. Tendai Huchu’s first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His short fiction in multiple genres and nonfiction have appeared in Enkare Review, The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter, Interzone, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, The Africa Report and elsewhere. In 2013 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. He is now a podiatrist in Edinburgh and his work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Information about the book (Amazon)
- Publisher : Ohio University Press; 1st edition (September 5, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 082142162X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0821421628
- Reading age : Baby and up
- Lexile measure : HL790L
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,052,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1,920 in African Literature (Books)
- #61,719 in Black & African American Literature (Books)
- #166,612 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.1 out of 5 stars 237 ratings
Excerpt from the hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
I knew there was something not quite right about Dumi the very first time I ever laid eyes on him. The problem was, I just couldn’t tell what it was. Thank God for that. There was a time when I was reputed to be the best hairdresser in Harare, which meant the best in the whole country. Amai Ndoro was the fussiest customer to ever grace a salon and she would not let any ordinary kiya-kiya touch her hair. Having sampled all the salons in Harare — and rejected them all — she settled on ours. The fussiest customer was also the largest motor mouth and gossip-monger. Once she was our client, we never needed to advertise again, as long as we kept her happy. That was my job and why Mrs Khumalo paid me the highest wage.
Khumalo Hair and Beauty Treatment Salon was in the Avenues, a short walking distance from the city centre. We did hair but never any beauty treatments. In any case I doubt any of us knew how to. There was a rusty metal sign painted white with black lettering on the front gate that pointed to our establishment. The rust, accumulated over several rainy seasons, had eaten away so much of the sign that only Khu—l-, a drawing of a lady with a huge afro and an arrow still showed. Our customers didn’t need it, the directions were simple. ‘Go up from Harare Gardens, skip two roads, take a left, skip another road and look for the blue house on your right, not the green one, and you’re there.’ You’d have to be a nincompoop to miss it. The front section of the house, which once served as a lounge, was converted into an internet café with a dozen or so computers. You could hear the fans humming and the shriek of the dialler from the pavement across the road. Their prices weren’t too bad either, compared to those at Eastgate or Ximex Mall. The rest of the main house was used by the Khumalo family, all thirteen of them.
Our salon was at the back in what used to be the boy’s kaya, servant’s quarters. From across the yard, the fragrant aroma of relaxers, dyes, shampoos and a dozen other chemicals hit you. The smell merged with the dust from the driveway and left something in your nostrils that you couldn’t shake off until the next time you caught a cold. The building had been crudely extended. A wall had been knocked down to the left and concrete blocks hastily laid to add another seven metres. Such architectural genius had left us with a hybrid building, the likes of which you could only find if you looked hard. The right of the building was constructed of proper burnt bricks, professionally built in every respect. You could see the dividing line where the cheap concrete blocks had been used. Aesthetics aside, we were all grateful for the accommodation, though it rattled a little during heavy storms.
Each morning I was greeted by Agnes with, ‘Sisi Vimbai, you’re late again. Customers are waiting.’ Mrs Khumalo’s eldest daughter held the keys and opened shop. I would make a sound like ‘Nxii’ with my lips and walk in without greeting the cow. I hated her, she hated me twice as much and, so long as mummy wasn’t in, there was no need to pretend otherwise. Everyone knew I was the goose that laid the golden eggs. If I left, half the customers would follow me. In any case, letting them wait made them realise how lucky they were to be served at all, so I was actually doing the business a favour. There were three other hairdressers; Memory, Patricia and Yolanda plus Charlie Boy, our barber, who always came in smelling of Chibuku. The salon was my personal fiefdom and I was queen bee. I would throw my handbag on the floor underneath the cashier’s desk and boil myself a cup of tea. ‘There is a new style I want you to do for me.’ How often have I heard these words, usually followed by a folded picture torn from some glossy American magazine. ‘Nxii, I can do that easily, it’s just the style for you!’ I always indulged them with a white lie. There’s only one secret to being a successful hairdresser and I’ve never withheld it from anyone. ‘Your client should leave the salon feeling like a white woman.’ Not coloured, not Indian, not Chinese. I have told this to everyone who’s ever asked me and what they all want to know is how d’you make someone feel like a white woman? Sigh, yawn, scratch. The answer is simple, ‘Whiteness is a state of mind’. Mrs Khumalo understands this and that’s why she would never fire me. The other girls don’t understand it and that’s why Patricia was fired. The stupid girl got pregnant less than six months into the job, so, of course, Mrs K. had no choice. Hairdressers are there to sell an image and that image is not pushing a football in your belly. Suddenly we had a vacancy. Little did I know that this small twist of fate would cost me my crown.
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Editorial reviews and praise for the hairdresser of Harare
“A fresh and moving account of contemporary Zimbabwe….The Hairdresser of Harare ultimately wins us over with the vividness of its setting and characters, and with its reminder of the multitude of rich stories to be found in their daily lives.”—The New York Times Book Review
“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 ma
“Diasporic writers, presumably granted a bit of historical distance, seem like the most intuitive place to find writing that errs more toward the philosophical than the experiential. And that hunch is not altogether wrong: the Edinburgh-based Zimbab
“This sharp, entertaining, and thoughtful debut is rife with sociopolitical commentary but never loses its humanity…. Through deceptively simple observations and plain prose, Huchu exposes readers to issues of classism, racism, and homophobia without ever coming across as preachy or heavy-handed.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Huchu brings Harare’s public and private spaces to vivid life. These people and places are distinguished by aspiration and failure, international engagement and small-town provincialism, wealth and poverty, family ties and bitter mistrust—and, always, the specter of violence and a tenuous peace.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Community readers reviews on goodreads for the Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
Brown Girl Reading
333 reviews1,638 followers
Edited March 13, 2016
This book wasn’t at all what I expected. The first half of the book gave a very good idea what everyday life is like in Harare and that was the best thing about it, however the story was being milked with a twist that was obvious from the start. It dragged on it seemed like forever. I was waiting for something to happen. Finally when the mystery is revealed to the main character, she reacts badly and does something that is just mean and spiteful. As a result the consequences are tragic. I’m not really sure what the author was trying to say with this book. On lighter note, it’s a quick read but the writing style is nothing to write home about. I think I’ll try his second novel to see if it is any better. I wouldn’t especially recommend this book. It’s just ok.
Author 147 books
Edited August 14, 2013
The Hairdresser of Harare had a Nollywood feel that was refreshing to see in literature form. with the high drama, the wahala, the women gossiping, etc. It was easy reading; I started and didn’t want to stop. This book also reminded me of the Aya series, in that it was was in a part of Africa (Zimbabwe), did not pretend that Africa didn’t have problems, yet showed everyday life (i.e. not war, disease, and horrible death) and focused on everyday issues. I loved this, and it drew me in. And it’s another book (like Chimamanda’s Americanah) where I loathed the main character, and that was cool. It’s in first person, so it’s an even more interesting exercise in perspective. Plot-wise, I could see the ending from a mile away. The prose was a bit amateur and there were sections that felt repetitive or useless, but the story flowed well enough. This book is pretty short but good fun.
Edited September 2, 2015
I almost gave it five stars but because it was obvious what was happening, I think really a 4.5. Wonderful use of language though some words are African. Usually either they are explained or easy to figure out. It’s a really good book about all kinds of love, some kinds of hate. Zimbabwe is a country being destroyed by the very leaders brought to power by the fight for independence. There are shortages of everything. The money is devalued every day. The government ministers have thugs to handle problems to their power or electability. But, this book is about the government only as it touches & rides over human rights. Mostly it’s about a beautiful unwed mother whose daughter is a charmer. The father is a creep and out of the picture most of the time. Her life is poor and she does the best she can with what little she has. There are family feuds and healing and broken hearts. Also it’s about hairdressing, kindness and prejudice and her handsome rich hair-dressing coworker and their relationship. The book is enjoyable entertaining educational and definitely worth reading. I expect to and I hope to hear more from this young author.
Reviews from customer on Amazon
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BOOK, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF CURRENT EVENTS
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2019
The recent death of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe shines a light on the homophobic policies of his leadership. This book highlights the way these policies affected one man and those around him. It is a good read, though a bit clunkily written, and with all of the books that I read by my African brothers and sisters, I would be enhanced by a translation of the italicized terms. Well worth the read, even if there are parts that could stand a good edit.
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting your har done is never a smiple matter…..
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2015
I’m a fan of African fiction writers. There seems to be a new crop emerging lately, and I have read many of their works. The Hairdresser of Harare is pleasing to read, and one wonders if it might be semi- auto biographical, but don’t wonder about this too long or hard as it doesn’t affect the book. I feel Huchu did a great job writing this novel. Although the plot is predictable, the story is none the less heart wrenching. Even in 2015 people are not free to express and be themselves. There is good character development, and a great immersion into the culture of the city and lively beauty parlor banter. A fast but pleasing and enjoyable read.
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2017
I had seen The Hairdresser Of Harare positively reviewed on other book blogs so jumped at the chance to purchase my own copy when the ebook was discounted recently on Amazon. It’s a fairly light-hearted story – although with violent episodes towards the end – and I thought Huchu portrayed modern day Zimbabwe in a lively and entertaining way. I liked his characters, all of whom felt real although perhaps slightly larger than life, and the potentially bitchy atmosphere of the hair salon was great fun. Vimbai is a deceptively complex woman. Initially I thought her rather vain and shallow, but as I discovered more about her life and her choices I found myself really rooting for her to succeed.
Huchu describes Harare in a way that made the city appeal to me, but he doesn’t shy away from its negative aspects. I was shocked by the aggressive male behaviour that women endure daily – unwanted and uninvited chat-ups repeatedly being followed with abusive language when refused or ignored. Ingrained cultural attitudes towards homosexuality were also difficult for me to accept. Dumi’s ‘secret’ is telegraphed from fairly early on in the novel so I wasn’t surprised by the revelation – certainly not as much as Vimbai is! – and her immediate response was disappointing although I suppose understandable given her lack of relevant knowledge. Having very much enjoyed reading most of The Hairdresser Of Harare, I felt the last quarter was too rushed which did spoil the book a bit for me, but I look forward to reading more Tendai Huchu novels in the future.
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