Have you ever read a book that you know is fiction but it messes with your head so much that you start to believe that its actually a non-fiction book? That the characters actually exist? No? Just me?
People that know me will tell you that it’s absolutely inconceivable that I’ll read a book twice. Not when there are more than a million worlds through words to discover.
House of Stone, which is Novuyo Tshuma’s debut novel, however, is such a remarkable work of art that it’s taken me a second reading to fully appreciate it’s genius and to be able to write this review.
The story centers on Zamani who longs to be accepted by the family from whom he rents a room. When their son disappears, he sets out to write his surrogate family’s hi-story (that’s the way Zamani writes the word) by coaxing the stories out of the Mlembos.
The story is equal parts hilarious and horrifying. In a recently concluded masterclass on Creative Writing, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi mentioned how delicious an unreliable narrator can be and Novuyo used the character Zamani perfectly, to tell personal narratives of the history of Zimbabwe; the Rhodesian war and the Gukurahundi genocide. For a person (me) who is hungry for informaton on Africa as a whole, this book is a Godsend.
The character messed with my head so much. I wasn’t sure whether I should root for him and when I was rooting for him, I felt guilty.
The other thing I love about House of Stone is that it can not be put in one box of a genre. It’s a historical, psychological, thriller. I think I need to end this post here, lest I give the story away.