Harvest of Thorns (African Writers Series)
The revolution that ended white minority rule in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) is seen here chiefly through the eyes of Benjamin Tichafa, a young guerrilla. He is the son of a devoutly religious couple, his father a government messenger completely subservient to his white superiors. Enraged by the treatment of blacks, a teenage Benjamin turns from his parents’ apolitical religion. After being arrested in a demonstration, he joins the revolution.
The novel is enriched by the viewpoints of black Rhodesians who, out of fear or for economic reasons, do not fully support the struggle. The slaying of a dictatorial white farm owner dismays his foreman, whose livelihood is now threatened. The fatal beating of a woman who reluctantly informed on the guerrillas raises misgivings in Benjamin’s outfit. Though ultimately portraying the victory as worthwhile, Chinodya also shows the price paid in lives, tattered families and lost traditions. The result is a humane and penetrating look at a brutal government and a bloody revolution.
Harvest of Thorns is a novel of great significance which will give all those who read it a greater understanding of the road along which Zimbabwe has travelled, as well as indicate many of the directions ahead.
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.