House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

House of Stone

In the chronic turmoil of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo’s teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing. Erudite, enigmatic Zamani, their lodger, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. In his eagerness to help, Zamani is almost a part of the family— but almost isn’t nearly enough. Ingratiating himself to Mama Agnes and feeding alcoholic Abednego’s addiction, he is desperate to extract their life stories and ma...

Details House of Stone

TitleHouse of Stone
Release DateJan 29th, 2019
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreFiction, Cultural, Africa, Eastern Africa, Zimbabwe, Historical, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Literature, African Literature

Reviews House of Stone

  • Beverly
    This was a 4.5 read for me.Powerful, exquisitely affecting, blisteringly honestHouse of Stone is an impressive debut that examines the integration and recreation of personal and national identities through the lens of one “family” from the dissolution of Rhodesia, the birth of Zimbabwe, and what being a nation entails.It is through the lens of the hopeful wily protagonist Zamani and his obsessive need to immerse himself into the family histor...
  • Claire McAlpine
    Brilliantly written, but the lack of redemption or hope made me want to read it faster than I would otherwise, that overarching sense of doom, that things aren't going to end well, pervades the text, the narrative of this one young man's attempt to manipulate a family into accepting him as their son, having supplanted their own son is like a microcosm of the story of the nation, of a leader that positions himself forcefully as the father of the n...
  • Tommi
    The premise of Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s House of Stone shows a boy called Zamani immersing himself in the family history of Abednego and Agnes, whose son Bukhosi has gone missing. To help the family in distress, our narrator Zamani, who is a somewhat mysterious figure, stays at their house and wants to learn more about the family’s history. In a series of flashbacks, told in turns by the surrogate father and the surrogate mother to Zamani, House ...
  • Shona Tiger
    Some really amazing writing! Read it in one day :)I appreciate that there is a fair amount of subtext in this book, that I may get because I grew up in that part of Zimbabwe. For that reason, I'm extremely impressed with how this story was written, and with its complexity. Also, while the traumatic parts are very difficult to read, they are handled in a straightforward (almost clinical) way.At her launch in Harare, someone asked her about Dambudz...
  • Anne Goodwin
    House of Stone is psychologically, historically, culturally and literarily impressive, especially for a first novel, and a strong contender for my growing list of stellar reads of the year. Full review
  • Jan
    Tshuma creates an unusual character and uses him to explore issues of history, trauma and memory in 20th century Zimbabwe. I found this book both challenging and highly readable, with beautiful writing, clever construction and a semi-comic tone despite the occasional horrors. It kept me off base and unsettled the whole way through. Definitely an author to watch.
  • Liz Murray
    The most skilfully told tale I have read in a long time, that gets under your skin, crawling about, leaving traces of discomfort and dis-ease. Highly, highly recommended!An epic told with not a word out of place. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma weaves a story like a spider weaves its web. An outline is provided, details partially filled in, and layers are added as the tale is told. Hunches are confirmed, or rejected, with the narrator firmly in control for th...
  • Kiprop Kimutai
    House of Stone was an astounding read. I could see Novuyo's ambition here. She wrote a book about Zimbabwe, but not just about Zimbabwe's historical reality but the imagination that went alongside that reality. This exhibits itself very well in the titular character Zamani, in whose mind, thoughts and imaginations we are constantly engaging with, and are therefore privileged to know his hopes, his desires and how he carefully, and cruelly, manipu...
  • Imi
    3.5 stars. A novel that I believe would benefit from multiple re-reads and research into the historical events at its centre: that is, the dissolution of colonial Rhodesia and the birth of modern-day Zimbabwe. Realistically, though, I cannot see myself having the desire or energy to do that anytime soon. This is the kind of history you find yourself unable to linger on. Tshuma examines the turmoil of recreating a nation's entire personal identity...
  • Lisa
    It took longer than it should have to read House of Stone by Zimbabwean author Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. Weird, confusing, but fascinating too, it seems to be grounded in an oral storytelling tradition with a narrator who’s pulling the strings in an anarchic sort of way. Zamani is definitely in charge of the narrative, breaking in every now and again to confide in the reader that he is orchestrating events in the present while extracting from unwilli...
  • Laura
    I received an ARC of this book from in return for a First Impressions review.Narrator Zamani, an orphan himself, attempts to attach himself to a family (Abednigo and Agnes) with whom he boards and whose 17-year-old son has recently disappeared. His approach seems to be to collect the family history and adopt it as his own, so he becomes a surrogate son. He collects this history through all kinds of trickery and manipulation, playin...
  • Jessie
    This book, about a young man’s deranged pursuit of a family of his own, tells a Zimbabwean story that is so important, and so timely with the Mugabe chapter of their history having so recently come to a close. The protagonist, a child of the Gurkahundi massacre, uses any means necessary to obtain the family denied to him by the brutality of the regime. Sounds good right? It was. Eventually. But it took the first half of the book, and some very ...
  • Aimee Dars
    During a political rally in Zimbabwe, Bukhosi Mlambo disappeared. Desperate to locate their son, they are vulnerable to the attentions of their lodger, Zamani, who is only seven years older than Bukosi. Zamani, an orphan, tries to become the Mlambo’s missing son, willing to go to desperate lengths to maintain his proximity to the family.Unreliable, at times, Zamani, an orphan, believes he is a more worthy son than Bukosi. In other cases, he is ...
  • Tripfiction
    Sweeping novel set in RHODESIA / ZIMBABWEYoung Bukhosi has been captured by the police at the Mthwakazi rally, observed by the lodger of the household, Zamani. Where has he been taken? Will he ever come back?Zamani, whilst Bukhosi is missing, is busy inveigling himself into Bukhosi’s family, and his parents Agnes and Abed are already becoming Zamani’s surrogate parents.Zamani knows how to ingratiate himself and takes Abed’s drinking in hand...
  • David Kenvyn
    Gukurahundi is not a word that is known in this country, at least not in the way that we know the words Holocaust or Genocide or Massacre. It is, however, a seminal event in the history of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. It was when Robert Mugabe sent the fifth brigade of the Zimbabwe Army, a brigade that had been trained by the North Koreans, into the area around Bulawayo and murdered thousands of his political opponents in the Zimbabwe African Pe...
  • Ming
    I thought this book has some beautiful, poetic writing. The author is a strong and confident writer and the story is intriguing. The pacing is slow...almost too slow. No real action takes place till almost page 100. I could not wait till the seemed so long in coming.I appreciated her framing the story around the independence of Rhodesia and the formation of Zimbabwe. The event of Gukurahundi also serves as a centerpiece and it is appa...
  • Nothando
    I read this book in 48hrs, I couldn’t put it down. An insight into the lives of a “family” in Zimbabwe intricately tied together through the horrors of colonialism, liberation war violence, post independence realism and poverty, and the specific horrors and atrocities of the Mugabe-era led genocide, Gukurahundi. Disturbing told through the sly, manipulative lens and conniving ways of the scheming lodger, Zamani who not only snares his landl...
  • Malti Sharma
    ‘House of Stones’ is Tshuma’s adrenalized yearning to sing the sob story of Rhodesians who suffered at once their personal destiny and fate of their doomed nation. Chaotic history of a whole generation haunts them like shadows from a graveyard.Traumatized already, they are shocked to find that the facts have been switched to the tune of the oppressor.Ironically, the sons of mass rape-victims are expected to produce a birth certificate. An u...
  • Lone Star Literary Life
    Reviewed by Michelle Newby Lancaster for Lone Star Literary Life.“Always, you must be looking back over your shoulder, to see what history is busy plotting for your future."Zamani is “a man on a mission … to remake the past, and a wish to fashion all that has been into being and becoming.” He is a border in the home of Abednego and Agnes Mlambo in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Unbeknownst to the Mlambos, Zamani grew up in the house they now occupy,...
  • MalikaMai Reads
    My second DNF of the year. I really really tried to like this as it has so many good reviews but I simply could not get into it. I can't grasp the concept of the story or find the relevance to at least drive me to keep goingI've never been drawn to fiction that has very little dialogue between characters so my mind was constantly wandering to other things, which defeats the purpose of getting stuck into a captivating book. Oh well onto the next o...
  • Wendy Cosin
    I gave up after about 70 pages - this book just didn't work for me. The story of the fall of Rhodesia and the birth of Zimbabwe is told through the reluctantly shared reminiscences told to a young man desperate for family. I looked up some historic background so my lack of knowledge wouldn't be as much of a problem, but I still had trouble following what seemed disjointed and not very interesting. Looking at other people's reviews, I see that the...
  • Michael O'Donnell
    An unlikable read. A powerful graphic story of the transition of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. Sometimes the language and scene creation where exotic and fresh. Sometimes it devoloved into flowery prose. The main character was a sociopath. I so wanted it to be different. The surrogate father was a mash up of conflicted characters leaving him unbelievable. Atrocities committed for misguided and overinflated passion. Corruption of state, church and the ind...
  • Jenny Yates
    This is very good. It’s gripping, well-written, and mind-expanding. For me, it was also a learning experience, since I knew very little about the history of Zimbabwe. And sometimes fiction can give you much more than a history book. For one thing, I didn’t know anything about the Gukurahundi, the massacres carried out against the Ndebele people in the 80s, in which thousands of people died. These were reprisals by Mugabe against the areas tha...
  • Charlott
    When Bhukosi, a young man, goes missing in Bulawayo, Zamani, who lives as a lodger at Bhukosi's parents, sees his chance to secure his place in this family and unearth the hi-stories of the parents, Abed and Agnes. Zamani implores later in the novel: "For a man cannot shape his own life while still under the thumb of History. History has been known to consume men whole, to make out of them its playthings. No, I shan't be History's plaything!"But ...
  • Marshal Nyasha
    House of Stone - Novuyo Rosa TshumaI just finished reading Novuyo's debut novel, "House of Stone". It is an intense, passionate, brutally candid, funny, and witty narrative that summarises the young troubled history of Zimbabwe. Through the eyes of a young Ndebele man, she tackles the complex timeless themes defining Southern Africa such as apartheid, racism, tribalism, identity crisis, corruption, injustice, human rights violation, domestic viol...
  • John Benson
    This debut novel by a Zimbabwean author helps bring out the history of this country since 1980. The story has many layers and the narrator, Zamani (Swahili for "past"), is somewhat untrustworthy as he tries to uncover the history of the family he is currently living with in Bulawayo. The house they live in was once owned by his family, but he is ingratiates himself with this new family and tries to pull out the stories of Abednego, Agnes and thei...
  • Chris Allan
    A long overdue literary treatment of the massacres and government repression in Matabeleland by the Zimbabwean government shortly after the first elections for majority rule in 1980. The story is beautifully written and the characters engaging, with flashes back and forth from the terror unleashed to the attempts of survivors to live normal lives in a society that refuses to acknowledge the atrocities. The device of the main character ingratiatin...
  • Jennifer
    I appreciated my book club's pick this month because it introduced me to the history of Zimbabwe, a subject about which I know next to nothing. That being said, however, I found this book an exceedingly difficult book to get through. The writing was disjointed and stream-of-consciousness and I spent most of the book confused about who Zamani, the book's narrator, was. I guess that the confusion was an intentional ploy on the author's part, but it...
  • Samuel Maina
    Novuyo Rosa Tshuma write English with the dexterity of the Brits who were roaming Zimbabwe at the cannot mistake the influence of that cultural affinity and the style used to write this book.To me Zamani is the centre piece...narrating both forward and backwards. The atrocities committed during the war....and how politics is inflation came to be and how about Back Jesus and ZANU PF...A multilayered piece of history told...
  • Ashley
    A bit difficult to read due to the writing style but a fresh storyline (albeit disturbing). A nation torn apart by war gains independence but has internal fighting for power between opposing forces. As with any war, the innocents die by the thousands as the mighty few gain control pillaging the land, women and children. And Zamani....our main quite the wolf in sheep’s disguise. A worthy read about Zimbabwe as a young nation with ...