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Zimbabwean writer Andrew Chatora awarded for land-themed novel in New York 

Zimbabwean writer Andrew Chatora was silver recipient at the Anthem Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion held in New York on January 30. A noted crusader of African immigrant literature based in the UK, Chatora was recognized for his 2023 novel, “Harare Voices and Beyond”.

Chatora’s novel interrogates land reform discourse and race relations in Zimbabwe. Hollywood notables such as actors Matt Damon and Kevin Bacon were among this year’s Anthem recipients. Anthem laureates are recognized for their contribution in the arts, popular culture and community work. Now in their third edition, the awards honour “purpose and mission-driven work.” 

In his acceptance speech, Chatora called on artists to keep on the prophetic watchpost: ‘‘Fellow creatives, together we can keep the momentum, relentlessly reflect the iniquities of our societies! Yes we can!’’

“In a year where so much is at stake, it is incredibly important to recognise impactful work and celebrate the progress happening globally,” Patricia McLoughlin, Anthem Awards General Manager remarked.

Chatora is the second Zimbabwean writer to receive the prize following US-based novelist and Mukana Press head honcho Munashe Kaseke’s 2023 award for her debut short story collection, Send Her Back and Other Short Stories.

“Zimbabwe’s history, long-run and more recent, has left behind a brutal legacy of racism, inequality and corruption. In Harare Voices and Beyond, I took on the ambitious challenge of telling a complex story about a complicated city, a devastated country and the multiple cultures that co-exist within,” Chatora said.

Steeped in Harare’s underbelly, Harare Voices and Beyond is not a narrative for the fainthearted. “Equally, the book also offers a minutiae examination on the place and scope of citizenship and nationhood in post-colonial Africa,” he added.

The novel deconstructs the simplistic dichotomy with which official discourse has sought to answer the question, “Who is a ‘real’ Zimbabwean?” “Do white people count? What about immigrants from other African countries?”

Segregated strands of Zimbabwean history meet where angels seldom tread, a quality associated with Chatora since his first novel, “Diaspora Dreams” took up the counterintuitive case of an African man teaching English in England. 

Described by literary critic Tariro Ndoro as a “why-dunnit,” being a detective story that offers up a confession before it unravels, “Harare Voices and Beyond” also walks the reader through the contemporaneous problems of crime, corruption, drug abuse and mental health

“Many Zimbabwean writers before me have looked at the land question in their literary works. Harare Voices and Beyond afforded me the chance to contribute to a longstanding ongoing discourse,” Chatora reflected in the aftermath of his win.

“With my novel, Harare Voices and Beyond, I was attempting to fill in the missing link, the constant question on how it could have felt on the other side, the landed white community during the land reform.

The Where the Heart Is novelist takes exception to criticism from some decolonial aficionados who conclude that he has taken the side of the whites. “Nothing could be further from the truth. For me, it’s not so much about taking sides bringing nuance and unexpected twists to a polarized conversation,” explained Chatora.

It is a curious case of turning the tables on oneself for a novelist equally targeted for his pro-black crusades on the diaspora turf. Or, perhaps, a simple taste for complexity? 

“So much had happened to white people during the land reform. Now, this should not be conflated with ‘I am anti-land reform’ as charged by some of my detractors. 

“But, to reiterate, that is the essence of the writer. I will always defend my right to write without fear or favour on any contentious issues affecting our society,’’ he said.

Appropriately enough, Harare Voices and Beyond earned its first gong from a prize that recognizes artworks championing diversity and inclusion. 

Author Biography 

Andrew Chatora is a noted exponent of the African diaspora novel. Candid, relentlessly engaging and vulnerable, his novels are a polarising affair among social critics and literary aficionados. Chatora’s forthcoming novel, Born Here But Not in My Name, is a long-run treatment of race relations in Britain, featuring the English classroom as a microcosm of wider society post-Brexit. His debut novella, Diaspora Dreams (2021), was the well-received nominee of the National Arts Merit Awards in Zimbabwe, while his subsequent works, Where the Heart Is, Harare Voices and Beyond and Inside Harare Alcatraz and Other Stories, has cemented his contribution as a voice of the excluded. Harare Voices and Beyond was awarded the 2024 Anthem Silver Award.

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About the Author

Andrew Chatora

Andrew Chatora

Andrew Chatora is a Zimbabwean novelist, essayist and short-story writer based in Bicester, England. He grew up in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and moved to England in 2002. His debut novella, Diaspora Dreams (2021), was approvingly received and nominated for the National Arts Merit Awards (2022). His second book, Where the Heart Is, was published in the same year to considerable acclaim. Chatora’s forthcoming book, Born Here, But Not in My Name, is a brave, humorous and psychologically penetrating portrait of post-Brexit Britain. Chatora is noted for his acerbic and honest depiction of the migrant experience. Heavily influenced by his own experience as a black English teacher in the United Kingdom, Chatora probes multi-cultural relationships, identity politics, blackness, migration, citizenship and nationhood.

''Inside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short Stories affords Andrew Chatora to tell his story with more urgency than before. Chatora roars into centre stage with this charmed confluence of the novella, the essay, the treatise, the short story and the vignette. Here is a collection to startle you out of your complacency.'' – Memory Chirere, University of Zimbabwe

In his fourth literary offering, Andrew Chatora gives us eleven stories written in a wide range of settings and painting the lives of Zimbabweans from different walks of life. From the impenetrable Harare prison to the working class Mutare and its domain of shebeen queens to suburban Harare and a politically charged United Kingdom in a post Brexit world, Chatora takes the reader on a grand tour of outrage. Notwithstanding the shifts in scene and setting, these stories have one pervasive theme in common - they capture the suffocation and desperation of Zimbabwe and her Diaspora and fully describe the precariousness of living in environments that are increasingly hostile.

Inside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short Stories transcends the grass is never greener perspective with a nuanced interrogation of the socio-political realities of its characters. Chatora fashions a diverse cast of characters whose complexities and eccentricities evoke the utmost in us.
"Where The Heart Is offers a nuanced view of one family’s struggle to negotiate cold Britannia as they face dicey neighbourhoods, sketchy liaisons, and perennial ill-fate. Chatora’s diaspora is not the glorified El Dorado; it is an honest place of grit and survival. A stellar contribution."

– Tariro Ndoro, Author Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner

For migrant Fari Mupawaenda, life cannot be complete without quitting the back breaking struggle for survival in the UK and returning to the laid-back streets of a warm Harare… but does it make sense for him to want to return to the periphery once more? The man who returns, why does he return? To what does he return?

His wife, a zealous cosmopolitan, the daughter, a conflicted bed-hopping undergraduate, and the son, a budding homosexual, will not follow Fari in his trip to what they see as the back of beyond. They have decided to invest fully where they are.
Fari’s reverse trip is a story about the human body, a tight memory test and a duel between geography and anticipation…

Masterful in style and form, the narratives in Andrew Chatora’s Where the Heart Is are intensely provocative.

-Memory Chirere- University of Zimbabwe
“Chatora gives us an honest account of the migrant’s experiences in a world that seeks to silence him. Diaspora Dreams is simultaneously suffocating and isolating. Battle after battle, the reader is constantly thrown into the unforgiving world of a black man in a white man’s world.” – Tariro Ndoro, Author, Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner

Diaspora Dreams is Andrew Chatora’s debut novella. It details the life and struggles of Kundai Mafirakureva, a Zimbabwean immigrant living in the United Kingdom. When Kundai departs a failing Zimbabwe for the greener pastures of England, he is convinced that his luck will immediately change. Yet what he finds in the UK convinces him that all that glitters is not always gold.

Chatora takes us on a journey that acquaints us with Thames Valley, where Kundai must negotiate his place and his voice in a world where African men are not welcome, a world where racial prejudice is still rampant. Set against the backdrop of petty classroom squabbles that constantly remind Kundai of his lower status as an immigrant and as a black man, Diaspora Dreams exposes the tensions of working in the diaspora and the complicated dynamics between community and authority experienced by black men.

The pressures of Britain also bear down on Kundai’s family and relationships, threatening, in the words of du Bois, to “tear his soul asunder.” This is a novel with comedic elements gleaming with personal values and beliefs, sometimes an aching story to read, but never without excitement and hope as you watch this black man’s life unfold.
“Harare Voices and Beyond takes us on a journey through the dark recesses of the human psyche.”

─Sue Quainton, Bicester, United Kingdom

A drunken confession exposes a dark family secret. Rhys appears to have it all. A white Zimbabwean living in affluent Borrowdale Brooke area he gets involved in a freak traffic accident. Therein unfolds a confession which unleashes a cathartic chain of events in the family’s hitherto well-choreographed life, a family whose lived experience becomes microcosmic and an eye opener to Zimbabwe’s seemingly closed, forgotten, white minority community.

Through offering a rare insight into lives of the white community in post-independence Zimbabwe, Harare Voices and Beyond explores the dynamics of love, money, family feuds, identity politics, false philanthropy, and respectability inter-alia. Two families’ lives are inexorably linked in this fast-paced narrative which not only traverses multiple locations, but also juxtaposes the seedy underbelly of Harare with the leafy northern suburbs, and little-known Marina Thompson from UK Durham University all appear linked in a drama-infused finale that will shock and numb the reader.

Today in Literature

Andrew Chatora’s Debut Novella “Diaspora Dreams” Stares Back at the White Gaze


The Breaking of Our Tribe: A Review of Where the Heart Is by Andrew Chatora


Charles Lovemore Mungoshi – Eulogy to Greatness


Navigating New Identities – A Review of Andrew Chatora’s “Diaspora Dreams”


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