COMMONWEALTH Writers’ Prize winner Shimmer Chinodya has re-issued his first work of fiction, Dew in the Morning, which was first published by Mambo Press in 1982 and subsequently shortlisted for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in the same year.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
The Noma Award, which ran between 1980 and 2009 with an annual $10 000 prize, was, however, won by Ghana’s Meshack Asare.
Chinodya told NewsDay that Dew in the Morning, which had gone out of circulation, was very close to his heart as it was a book of sentimental value.
“It was my first novel, written when I was in Form 6 while herding cattle,” he recalled.
“So this is like a rebirth of a book 27 years later. I’m reading it again right now and it’s exciting.”
He said his later novels, Harvest of Thorns (1989) and Strife (2006), were born out of Dew in the Morning.
He said although the book could have been published before independence in 1980, MacMillan Publishers Ltd — who published most literature from Rhodesia — did not have confidence in indigenous literature.
The book was, however, accepted by the Catholic-run Mambo Press based near Senga in Gweru, where Chinodya resided.
“I am very proud of it because it’s a Gweru product, so there is that sentimentality,” he said.
The book sold almost 1 000 copies per year at its peak for about 10 years and in 2001, alongside Harvest of Thorns and Can We Talk (1998), it was selected for publication for the foreign market by Heinemann Publishers in the United Kingdom as part of its African Writers’ Series.
Chinodya said self-publishing, which many upcoming writers were adopting, was “exciting, but ambivalent”, it lacked the “editorial rigours” associated with established publishing houses.
The award-winning author and curriculum developer holds a Master of Arts Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa in the United States.
He has authored several books including Farai’s Girls (1984), Child of War (1986), Tale of Tamari (2004), Chairman of Fools (2005) and Tindo’s Quest (2011).