When he lands in Harare North, our unnamed protagonist carries nothing but a cardboard suitcase full of memories and an email address for his childhood friend, Shingi. Finessing his way through immigration, he spends a few restless weeks as the very unwelcome guest in his cousin's home before tracking down Shingi in a Brixton squat. In this astonishing, revelatory original debut, Caine Prize winner Brian Chikwava tackles head-on the realities of life as a refugee. This is the story of a stranger in a strange land - one of the thousands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants seeking a better life in England - with a past he is determined to hide. From the first line the language fizzes with energy, humour and not a little menace. As he struggles to make his life in London (the "Harare North" of the title) and battles with the weight of what he has left behind in a strife-torn Zimbabwe, every expectation and preconception (both his and ours) is turned on its head.The inhabitants of the squat function at various levels of desperation - Shingi struggles to find meaningful work and to meet the demands of his family back home; Tsitsi makes a living renting out her baby to women defrauding social services; and Alex claims to have an important job in Croydon. Fearlessly political, laugh-out-loud funny and with an anti-hero whose voice is impossible to forget, Chikwava's novel is an arresting account of London as it is experienced by the Africa's dispossessed.
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April 2010 : UK Paperback
April 2009 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition