Voted an Observer Top Ten African Book 2012
Vimbai is the star hairdresser of her salon, the smartest in Harare, Zimbabwe, until the enigmatic Dumisani appears. Losing many of her best customers to this good-looking, smooth-talking young man, Vimbai fears for her job, vital if she’s to provide for her young child. But in a remarkable reversal the two becomes allies, Dumi renting a room from Vimbai, then inviting her to a family wedding, where to her surprise, he introduces her to his rich parents as his ‘girlfriend’. Soon they are running their own Harare salon, attracting the wealthiest and most powerful clients in the city. But disaster is near, as Vimbai soon uncovers Dumi’s secret, a discovery that will result in brutality and tragedy, testing their relationship to the very limit.
The Hairdresser of Harare is a stylish, funny and sophisticated first-hand account of life today in Zimbabwe’s capital city, confounding stereotypes and challenging injustice with equal fearlessness. This is an upbeat, charming, but at times heart-breaking, story of friendship, prejudice and forgiveness from the heart of contemporary Africa.
'A fresh and moving account of contemporary Zimbabwe... The novel does a fine job of explaining the tensions in a country where, as Vimbai explains, the key to success as a hairdresser is to have your client "leave the salon feeling like a white woman."' New York Times
‘The Hairdresser of Harare dives into a world so alive and full of feeling that it is hard to reconcile the image with that of dying Zimbabwe which is so often portrayed in the news… Tendai Huchu has crafted a wonderful novel out of a simple, yet emotionally complex situation.’ Cape Argus
‘This glorious book defies classification with its astute sociopolitical commentary nestling inside the appealing, often comic story of a young woman who will not accept defeat. With a light touch and real skill, Huchu takes us through the life-sapping economic realities of contemporary Harare…’ The Observer
'Huchu brilliantly demonstrates how... corruption becomes a survival mechanism for anyone who sees an opportunity... Vimbai is the creation of an unusually astute and unflinching writer.' The Guardian
‘A brave novel for our times... funny, imaginative and succinct’ The Standard
'Written with a clear, economical style and deceptive simplicity, this is a novel one can glide through in a matter of hours and end up wanting more.' The Herald
Video Interview with Tendai Huchu
Tendai Huchu reads from The Hairdresser of Harare
More about Tendai Huchu
Academic article on The Hairdresser of Harare
Publication date:18th March 2013
Format: 198x129, paperback, 256pp