Book Review: Dreaming Still: A collection of short stories by Simbarashe Simon Mugunzva
The American writer F. Scott. Fitzgerald is credited with a very harrowing quote which goes, “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” The issue of tragedy that human experience on a daily basis is fascinating to me. Tragedy is the order of the days and lives of author Simbarashe Simon Mugunzva’s characters in his debut short story collection ‘Dreaming Still.’ The book that comprises of fourteen stories is a welcome addition to Zimbabwean letters.
Mugunzva is a Zimbabwean poet, playwright, motivational speaker and author. His work has been featured in various anthologies, magazines, newspapers and websites.
The stories span from Zimbabwe to South Arica, the educated to the uneducated, the haves and the haves not giving readers a wonderful exploration of the human experience. The characters are unapologetically human and flawed as such while they go through the most tragic of circumstances a human can go through. The anthology is written in English and is peppered with a few words in Venda and Shona. It touches on African beliefs such a visiting a witchdoctor and the writer employs magical realism in his work.
Some of the stories featured in the book include ‘Dreaming Still’ a story about a young girl who is married off by her father and is now haunted by Musa, a servant she had been betrothed to. ‘A voice to the voiceless’ is a gruesome account of the xenophobic attacks foreigners often face when they leave their native lands. The story is set in South Africa and tells the tragic story of a xenophobic attack on foreigners in South Africa. ‘Tit for Tat’ is a story that tell of a group of youngsters who cross the Limpopo in search of brighter prospects but come face to face with a violent reality. In the comical ‘The eleventh minute’ an Apostal comes face to face with an old flame.
Through Mugunzva’s vivid and heart piercing storytelling, the readers is able empathise with the characters and at moments have their jaw drop at the sheer brutality of human existence. The details of struggle make one introspect and thankful they are not in the characters’ shoes (there but the grace of God go I). The characters grapple with love, loss, stolen dreams, xenophobia, poverty and other vices to give readers a wide spectrum of the lives others are forced to live.
The book is definite recommend for readers of African literature and a welcome contribution to contemporary Zimbabwean literature.