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Harare North

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  202 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Caine Prize winner Brian Chikwava tackles the realities of life in London for Africa’s dispossessed in this fearlessly political and very funny story of an illegal Zimbabwean immigrant seeking a better life in England — with a past he is determined to hide.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Jonathan Cape (first published April 2nd 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Rima Rashid
Dec 07, 2015 Rima Rashid rated it it was amazing
You have no idea how amazing this book is if you don't read it. Chikwava writes a witty and dark book and it leaves you laughing and terrified when you're done. Crawling deep into your duvet terrified.
Mar 08, 2011 Al rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fran Hepburn, Dave Venter
A book with a difference!
Written by a Zimbabwean living in London it kept me interested enough to keep reading although at times I found the Zimbo-lingo (read pidgin English) irritating. However, it all makes sense if you read it as an African listening to an African............

Funny and sad but definitely worth a read.
Lisa Burgess
Jul 23, 2015 Lisa Burgess rated it really liked it
It took me several attempts to read this book. I kept getting mired in the speaker's language, but when I finally got past page 50, I was in the mode and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Quite an amazing exploration of a psyche gone awry. Now I want to read it a second time.
Dec 31, 2016 Armando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is moving and entertaining. I sometimes hesitate to read about settings that I am familiar with because it feels like I am reading a newspaper. However, this novel proved me wrong. I'm glad to have read this.
Vic Munala
The pidgin English thing was distracting. Bold move from the writer though to just get out of the comfort and use it. Good writing.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman
The narrative in Harare North is unique; it dealt away with the entire grammatical caboodle that burdens the writer when using a character who is not versed in the English syntax because it is not his first language; or even if it were, because he has adopted and adapted it to suit his daily needs. Brian Chikwava's protagonist is not burdened with the flowery, indulging, and literary complications of the English language; he has given the layman's English as it is spoken and understood by the ma ...more
Lucy Hastings
Jun 30, 2009 Lucy Hastings rated it it was ok
Finally finished last night. Set in Brixton in areas I know, lived a group of African illiegal immigrants. Two were from Zimbabwe another was a woman with a baby. All lived in an awful, rat infested squat and tried to make a life together. It gave a good insight into the struggles of finding 'graft' and living hand to mouth. The discovery of the food bin behind Marks and Spencers led to violence. The politics of Africa and the status they had back home comes into play here, where people held cou ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Meghan rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this novel. It's in one of my favourite places in the entire world (London). It has lots of references to my favourite place to read about (Sub-saharan Africa). But I couldn't do it. It just didn't work for me. I felt it started out strong, but by the end, I had no investment in any of the characters. The fatal flaw is the protagonist. He's unlikeable, which in and off itself isn't a problem, there are plenty of unlikeable protagonists, but that Chikwava doesn't give him ...more
africawrites  - The RAS' annual festival of African Literature
In Harare North Brian Chikwava introduces us to a wholly original voice emanating out of a South London squat. The nameless Zimbabwean narrator is recently arrived from Harare, with a questionable past involvement as one of President Mugabe's youthful thugs, clutching a briefcase - the contents of which are not fully revealed until the end of the novel. Our narrator hustles, cheats and scrapes his way round South London introducing us to a cast of characters surviving perilously close to the bre ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-noir
Not mystery, but pure Zimbabwean-in-Britain noir (though I expect it is termed literary), this was quite extraordinary. Language that flows and jumps just the way people speak it and with those rhythms you can find in English as borrowed and reinvented language, Chikwava sure spins them smooth jazz numbers. But darkness lurks beneath; only gradually do you piece together what kind. It is the brutal life of the newly-arrived immigrant, banal, and yet so utterly chilling I could hardly read it at ...more
Jan 15, 2017 libs rated it really liked it
The novel Harare North exposes the unheroic harsh realities of life as an Immigrant in London through the precarious lifestyle of his unnamed and his best friend Shingi. This is a novel that boldly touches on the struggle for identity when living in a diaspora. A post-colonial novel that really has an impact on its readers. It was hard for me to get used to Chikwava's narrative but through the mix of south London slang and Zimbabwean street English, I think the language did well in exposing the ...more
Witty and gritty first novel told from the POV of a Zimbabwean Mugabe supporter who arrives in London hoping to make quick $ to buy himself safety back home. Author has a unique voice.

Read for work.
Dec 05, 2015 Alliyah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly brilliant and thought-provoking read but the ending totally caught me off guard!! I think I would have given it 5 stars if the huge plot twist had been more than a few lines long. Would have made it easier to understand/digest.
Aug 10, 2016 Chanaka rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the use of dialect and the compromised unreliable narrator. Phrases like "giving forgiveness" stuck in the mind. This must be one of the most promising debut novels I've read in a while. I'm looking forward to what he does next. I didn't quite understand the ending though.
Feb 21, 2010 Edgar rated it it was ok
entertaining, looks like the 'struggle' is in every london community. Relocating , Migration...what ever you might call it. There are some lessons to learn from every city, mum, dad or school could never prepare you for.
May 28, 2009 Sohini rated it liked it
Thought the ending petered out a bit but on the whole, well written, particularly the voice and its dialect.
Brendan Marrett
Jul 01, 2014 Brendan Marrett rated it did not like it
The only semi-likable character apparently doesn't even.....


Just no.

My copy is for sale.
Oct 21, 2009 Sokari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-writers
I am so excited to have found this book and now catching snippets of reading in between a hundred other things to do - brilliant
Jul 17, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
the ending makes the rough start totally worth it.
Olumide Popoola
Dec 01, 2012 Olumide Popoola rated it it was amazing
a beautiful and haunting read, exquisitely crafted language.
Feb 22, 2014 Emi rated it it was ok
Interesting,funny a lot of times, just not put together as expected.
Dec 12, 2015 Miriam added it
Well I read not sure I enjoyed the pigeon/pidgin English.
Catherine O'Sullivan
Catherine O'Sullivan rated it really liked it
May 11, 2012
Sara Garstecka
Sara Garstecka rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2014
Daniel Swann
Daniel Swann rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2015
Lian rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2012
Brianne White
Brianne White rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2015
Rabi rated it really liked it
Jan 14, 2017
Andy rated it liked it
May 04, 2012
Kiesha rated it really liked it
Jan 17, 2016
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Brian Chikwava is a London based Zimbabwean writer and Caine Prize winner.
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