Day: December 29, 2013
Highway Queen is Zimbabwean author Virginia Phiri’s third novel, and although it’s fiction, it reads as if it was ripped from the headlines during Ziombabwe’s torturous era of hyperinflation and political madness – it has the resounding ring of truth that will reverberate in your mind long after you stop reading.
Phiri plunges the reader into the life of Sophie Mumba after her husband Steven is retrenched (a euphemism for all the workers who were permanently laid off when the country’s economy went into an uncontrolled free fall), succumbs to depression, and takes to drink. Sophie, like millions of African women before and since, is left to support her two children and ailing mother-in-law.
In unadorned prose, replete with richly textured descriptions of the people and environment during a time of madness, it chronicles Sophie’s own fall from grace, as she finds herself forced into prostitution in her desperate attempt to keep her family together. She faces violence, indifference, and the specter of HIV/AIDS with a sense of futility leavened by an innate sense of dignity and responsibility not shared by many of the men in her life.
Highway Queen is a continuation of her previous works, Desperate and Destiny, and is dedicated to ‘the women who have sacrificed their lives, health and happiness in order to fend for their families and at times communities.’
To most Westerners, and not a few Africans, the scenes in this book will be disturbing. They paint a picture of the continent that is often overlooked. But, for those who want a better understanding of the travails of a continent that has more than its share of the world’s problems, and a look at how some cope with those travails, this is recommended reading.
Get number seven in the Buffalo Soldier series, Buffalo Soldier: Yosemite, free for your Kindle for a limited time only – January 5 – 7.
Ben Carter is ordered to escort a survey party from Fort Union in New Mexico to Yosemite Valley in central California. The mission of the survey is to encourage the U.S. Congress to expand the national parks system. What should be a routine duty for the men of the Ninth Cavalry’s Buffalo Soldiers is complicated beyond Ben’s imaginings.
In the first place, one of his men is seriously injured coming back from a scouting mission and faces a long period of convalescence. He is replaced by a new trooper who comes with a checkered background and the taint of cowardice under fire. Ben worries about the man’s reliability on a mission that is being watched not just by the regimental commander, but the President of the United States.
Ben learns a lot about the new man, and the people he is assigned to protect, during the long journey to California, and that his routine mission is anything but, as he discovers that the natural beauty of Yosemite covers greed and danger that rival anything he has had to face before.