Mashingaidze Gomo, a new kid on the local literary block, launched his debut novel, A Fine Madness, to thunderous applause and titters as he narrated his writing experience at The Mannenberg in Harare last week.
Gomo’s book, which was first published in the United Kingdom, was compiled from a diary he kept during a military stint in the DRC war and is a first of its kind.
The book breaks out of the traditional linear storytelling model. It consists of snippets of narratives, prose poetry and observations that collectively paint a picture of Africa’s strife and hope.
“I didn’t know at what point this was going to be a book. I just wrote – it was a way of putting out the observations that I made during the war. In essence, I wanted to let the world know the soldier’s viewpoint, that the soldier also has feelings just like any other human being,” he said.
Gomo, a soldier by profession, said he has no regrets that the book appears like a veneration of war and that he participated in the DRC war, roundly condemned by the international community and some sections in Zimbabwe.
“What helped me to make the observations in the book was that I absolutely believed in the cause of the DRC war. Imagine if Mozambique or Zambia had reneged on assisting Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle,” he queried. “That would have been a travesty of justice, and it would have taken us longer to achieve our liberation.”
Some people who attended the launch bemoaned the failure of the local publishing industry to identify and showcase new writing talent such that writers have to either self-publish or depend on the whim of foreign publishers.