Home Art & Culture After a Writing Break, She Returned as a Booker Finalist

After a Writing Break, She Returned as a Booker Finalist

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You have been outspoken about politics in Zimbabwe, but it’s not as apparent in your books. Was that a choice and did you consider doing it differently?

It reflects my position. I believe politics is there to serve people, people in Zimbabwe exist to serve politics. I like to portray that point of view, about the individual person and how they engage with other humans and their environment. Their success or failure is the success and failure of the nation. I write about humans as a subject matter, and you see the politics through the lens of the person. If the state of the nation is functioning well, the people will flourish, but if the system is not well, the people will not flourish.

What does a better Zimbabwe look like for you?

When I worked for former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, he asked me what my vision was for a family in Zimbabwe. I didn’t answer at the time, but then later I thought, What is the basic family unit in society? How do we want them to relate to each other? I would want them to have clean water, shelter, education, health care, meaningful entertainment, recreation, spiritual growth to the extent that it doesn’t impose on others. They can live a life in the way that they choose.

In “This Mournable Body,” you used the second-person narrator. Can you explain this choice?

I started off writing several drafts in the first person and had trouble navigating her struggles. It was too distressing communicating that way. I felt I had to leave things out, so I wasn’t doing justice to what I wanted to say. I had to find a way of solving that challenge. A third-person narrator would be too remote given the first-person narratives of the other books, so I tried a second-person narrative and it worked.

What are your future plans?

I want to be able to set up woman film training, capacity-building initiatives, to be able to make films. I have some in pre-production and some are production-ready. I would live in an environment with reliable electricity. I finally have solar, now electricity doesn’t go off when I am in mid-sentence. To have running water, to live somewhere where there is a vibrant arts and literary community where I can have meaningful discussions.

If you notice, the Zimbabweans who are writing successfully are living outside of Zimbabwe. It’s great that they write about their experience there, but we need writers on the local level writing about local issues. Ideally, we can have a government that supports art as a window of society and providing a place of discussion.

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