On my desk

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Rotten Row

By Petina Gappah (Faber and Faber)

I loved Petina Gappah’s novel, The Book of Memory. So when her latest book landed on my desk, I couldn’t wait to dive straight into it. This holiday, it is at the top of my to-read list.

In Harare, when people hear the name “Rotten Row”, they think crime and courts.

Rotten Row is a collection of interconnected short stories that explores causes and effects of crime and the nature of justice in Zimbabwe.

Every person passing through Rotten Row is fair game in this collection. Black or white, man or woman, good guys or villains, rich or poor – Gappah transcends barriers to explore very real issues in contemporary Zimbabwe.

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Black Queen White King Check Mate

By William O’Dowda (Partridge)

Forget the intriguing title, this short novel promises to have a lot more entertainment in its pages.

It is a love story with a twist – its multiple endings mean the love story could be a tragedy or a comedy.

Then there is the fact that we are told this story is true, autobiographical. But no names are used and no one knows what really happened.

Narrated by a doting white groom, we are taken through traditional rites of passage as he sees it. But things get complicated after lobola is paid. It is at this point that readers are left to decide which ending they like best.

Racism, xenophobia, alcoholism, tribal authority and gender rights are just some of the themes explored in this novel, which is aptly described as a “South African checkerboard of love”.

Get your hands on a copy this December.

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The African Code

By Xolo Songca (DS Publishers)

Centuries of oppression has left Africa destitute and barren, according to Xolo Songca.

In this book the writer takes the reader through a blood-spattered African past in an attempt to offer up understanding and hope to the people of the continent.

Most importantly, The African Code highlights the importance of possessing an informed knowledge of the history of Africa.

It may not be quite the light, holiday reading you’re looking for, but The African Code is a book we should all read at some point.

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