Meet an author: Tendai Huchu
Tendai Huchu is a Zimbabwean author.
His first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His short fiction in multiple genres and nonfiction have appeared in Enkare Review, The Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Gutter, Interzone, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, The Africa Report and elsewhere. In 2013 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize.
1. When and where were you born?
2. When did you start writing and why?
Oh God! I’ve given so many different answers to this question, I don’t even know how it all started. But, I think the most accurate thing would be to say that I was a keen reader as a kid, and I was fortunate to go to schools with good libraries. I think that’s were most writers are born, in the library. Then, one day you just get arrogant enough to think I can do that too.
3. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
When it’s been published that’s supposed to be the end, but I can assure you that even then you ‘ll see things you wanna tweak when you do readings and stuff. Like, Jesus, that line is so clunky, how did I not see that five years ago? At some point you just have to let go; the thing ossifies and takes on a life of its own.
4. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
I’d love to be tortured, but there’s harder things one could be doing with their time. I would say most occupations are infinitely more difficult than writing – being a vendor, selling your wares, dealing with stock, profits and loss, haggling customers is harder; being a cashier in a supermarket is harder, etc, etc. Making stories up – piece of cake.Every year, I promise to chop off my dreadlocks… Will this be the year? - @tendaihuchu Click To Tweet
5. What books would you say shaped your writing?
That’s hard to say, because each book/story I have written has different influences I’m trying to channel, depending on the form I want it to take. You get to a stage where you’ve read an awful lot and thus you can draw on different texts as scaffolding for your own work. I’m sorry this doesn’t quite answer the question, but it would be a very, very long list if we went there.
6. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Not really. I’m on an indefinite hiatus – sleep mode, blinking red light.
7. How do you feel about bad reviews?
You have to take a mature approach to these things. No work of art is universally loved (unless it’s something in the canon then people tend to ape received appraisals of it). It’s the nature of the hustle.No work of art is universally loved (unless it’s something in the canon then people tend to ape received appraisals of it). It’s the nature of the hustle. - @tendaihuchu Click To Tweet
8. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
As a rule, to be a character in a novel means to get your life fucked up one way or the other, that’s just because novels need some sort of tension to keep them going. I guess I’d choose to be Peter Grant from “Ben Aaronovitch’s “Rivers of London” urban fantasy novels. Peter is a cop in the understaffed magical department of the Metropolitan Police, and, he has all sorts of cool adventures… It also helps that “Rivers of London” is a series that keeps on going, so Peter’s not stuck in one book!
9. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
In Which the Hero…
10. What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to all sorts of music, I don’t think one should limit themselves to a particular genre. At the moment I tune into BBC Radio 6 a bit and they are pretty eclectic. Half the time I don’t even know the small bands they play on there.
11. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
Every year, I promise to chop off my dreadlocks… Will this be the year?
12. What books by a Nigeria Author would you recommend to a friend?
Come on, where does on even start with Nigerian lit? If I were to spin the bottle, I’d say go for “Double Wahala” by Tade Thompson, published by Ouida Books, which is, like, kick-ass noir from the golden age of crime fiction. It’s pacey, smart, very well plotted, and an all-round excellent novel.