Can We Talk And Other Stories (African Writers Series)
Shimmer Chinodya, winner of the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa region) is one of Zimbabwe’s foremost fiction writers. This collection of short stories reveals his development as a writer of passionate questioning integrity.
The first stories, ‘Hoffman Street’ and ‘The Man who Hanged Himself’ capture the bewildered innocence of a child’s view of the adult world, where behaviour is often puzzling and contradictory; stories such as ‘Going to See Mr B.V.’ provide the transition between the world of the adult and that of the child where the latter is required to act for himself in a situation where illusions founder on a narrow reality. ‘Among the Dead’ and ‘Brothers and Sisters’ look wryly at the self-conscious, self-centred, desperately serious world of young adulthood while ‘Playing your Cards’, ‘The Waterfall’, ‘Strays’ and ‘Bramson’ introduce characters for whom ambition, disillusion, and disappointment jostle for attention in a world where differences of class, culture, race and morality come to the fore. Finally, in ‘Can we Talk’ we conclude with an abrasive, lucid, sinewy voice which explores the nature of estrangement. The charge is desolation. Can we Talk and Other Stories speaks of the unspoken and unsaid. The child who watches but does not understand, the young man who observes but cannot participate, the man who stands outside not sure where his desires and ambitions lead, the older man, estranged by his own choices. ‘Can we Talk’ is not a question but a statement that insists on being heard, and demands a reassessment of our dreams.
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SHIMMER CHINODYA was born in Gweru in 1957 and educated at the University of Zimbabwe, where he studied literature and education. He later attended the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he acquired an MA in creative writing.
Dew in the Morning was his first work, written when he was nineteen and first published in 1982. He went on to write Farai's Girls (1984), Child of War (1985) and Harvest of Thorns (1989), which won him the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the African Region in 1990. His collection of short stories, Can we talk, was shortlisted for the first Caine Prize for short-story writing in Africa.
Chinodya has worked extensively as a curriculum developer, materials designer, editor and screen writer. He has been awarded various fellowships abroad and from 1995 to 1997 was the distinguished visiting professor in creative writing at St Lawrence University, New York. He lives with his wife and family in Harare.