Mosi oa Tunya Literary Review recently caught up with Tendai Huchu - author of The Hairdresser of Harare (2010) and The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician (2015), and numerous short stories. For all fans of science fiction and fantasy, Huchu's latest book, The Library of the Dead (2021), is a must-read.
TM: Tendai Machingaidze TH: Tendai Huchu
TM: Tell us about yourself - where you grew up, your family, where you studied, where you are now?
TH: I was born in Bindura, studied at Queen Margaret University, and I live in Edinburgh.
TM: Please describe your storytelling journey - What/Who inspired you to become a writer? What genres interest you the most?
TH: I was really into the Russians in my early twenties. Dostoevsky in particular was a revelation to me, and possibly the author who made me want to get into this because of how profound his ideas felt to me at the time.
I read across all genres, but spend a lot more time reading SFF, crime and lit fic.
TM: The Hairdresser of Harare, The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician, and your short stories have been published to much acclaim around the world. Talk to us about your new book, The Library of the Dead.
TH: My new book, The Library of the Dead, is the first in a brand new series called Edinburgh Nights. It's set in a dystopian Edinburgh, and has been pitched as "Stranger Things" meets “Rivers of London.”
My protagonist, Ropa, works as a ghostalker delivering messages between the living and the dead, and despite her age, she's extremely smart and tough. The dead whisper that someone is bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. This will lead her to an occult library, battles against villainous villains, and to unearth magic that will rock her world.
TM: Your writing has been translated into other languages such as German and Spanish. What has the reception of your work been across languages and cultures? Do you have any plans to translate your work into local Zimbabwean languages?
TH: I am glad my work has found an audience across different cultures, but I have no plans to translate my books into local Zimbabwean languages. Generally, with a few exceptions, translation is up to the publisher and not the author.
TM: What challenges have you faced as an author in Zimbabwe? What advice would you give to aspiring Zimbabwean/African writers who wish to publish their work at home and abroad?
TH: It depends what you mean by challenges. Writing is difficult, as any meaningful task tends to be, so “challenges” are part of the process. . . There is plenty of great advice available online for writers looking to publish. I strongly advise them to Google “How to get published” and they will find all they need to know there.