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Review: House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Title: House of Stone

Author: Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Year published: 2019
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map): Zimbabwe

SummaryIn the chronic turmoil of modern Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo’s teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing, and the Mlambos fear the worst. Their enigmatic lodger, Zamani, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. Since Bukhosi’s disappearance, Zamani has been preternaturally helpful: hanging missing posters in downtown Bulawayo, handing out fliers to passersby, and joining in family prayer vigils with the flamboyant Reverend Pastor from Agnes’s Blessed Anointings church. It’s almost like Zamani is part of the family…

But almost isn’t nearly enough for Zamani. He ingratiates himself with Agnes and feeds alcoholic Abednego’s addiction, desperate to extract their life stories and steep himself in borrowed family history, as keenly aware as any colonialist or power-mad despot that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future. As Abednego wrestles with the ghosts of his past and Agnes seeks solace in a deep-rooted love, their histories converge and each must confront the past to find their place in a new Zimbabwe.

Review: I read this book while I was in NY visiting my daughter. I hadn't brought another book to read so she suggested this one. I ended up listening to the last third of it since I left NY before I finished the book.

At first I wasn't that into this book, but by the end I was fascinated by the history included (genocide, independence, and more), the weirdness of Zamani's manipulation of the family, and what he hoped to achieve.

To worm one's way into someone else's family is just strange. Zamani worked both his surrogate parents in different ways to ingratiate himself into their lives and was successful until he went too far. I think he started to feel he deserved to be the son, to have their attention, and to control their lives. This is ultimately what backfires on him.

The historical aspects that come out through the parents are interesting. I knew a tiny bit about Zimbabwean history, but feel I learned more through the characters' reminiscing of past events. To me, that's the mark of a good book: a mixture of story and history.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Literary Escapes--Zimbabwe

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