Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a masterful debut that explores the creative—and often destructive—act of history-making.
In the chronic turmoil of modern Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo’s teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing, and the Mlambos fear the worst. Their enigmatic lodger, Zamani, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. Since Bukhosi’s disappearance, Zamani has been preternaturally helpful: hanging missing posters in downtown Bulawayo, handing out fliers to passersby, and joining in family prayer vigils with the flamboyant Reverend Pastor from Agnes’s Blessed Anointings church. It’s almost like Zamani is part of the family…
But almost isn’t nearly enough for Zamani. He ingratiates himself with Agnes and feeds alcoholic Abednego’s addiction, desperate to extract their life stories and steep himself in borrowed family history, as keenly aware as any colonialist or power-mad despot that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future. As Abednego wrestles with the ghosts of his past and Agnes seeks solace in a deep-rooted love, their histories converge and each must confront the past to find their place in a new Zimbabwe.
Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a sweeping epic that spans the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe’s turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a young nation seeking an identity, but built on forgetting.
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“Novuyo Rosa Tshuma has written a towering and multilayered gem. House of Stone is one of the greatest-ever novels about Zimbabwe. What a timely, resonant gift.” - NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names
“With luminous language, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma explores the treacherous terrain of colonization and decolonization, remembering and forgetting, and love and betrayal. The result is a gripping account of revolution and its aftermath, both for a country and for one man.” - Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
“House of Stone is a novel of such maturity, such linguistic agility and scope that you’ll scarcely believe it’s a debut. Tshuma has set her formidable talents to no less a subject than the emergence of Zimbabwe from the darkness and tumult of colonialism. It’s fierce and energetic right to the end, and whip smart to boot.” - Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
“To call [House of Stone] clever or ambitious is to do it a disservice – it is both, but also more than that...Tshuma is incapable of writing a boring sentence...She has managed to not only sum up Zimbabwean history, but also all of African colonial history: from devastating colonialism to the bitter wars of independence to the euphoria of self-rule and the disillusionment of the present. It is an extraordinary achievement for a first novel.” - Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water, for the Guardian
"Tshuma's writing is smart, original, feisty, brutal and gorgeous. She hits the perfect note on every single page in this gripping novel about history, belonging and power. This is the work of an incredible, incredible talent" - Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters' Street
"House of Stone' is that rare thing, a truly original work of art whose author's risk taking pays off on the page. Zamani is a complex, compelling and ambiguous narrator. Utterly stunning." - Tendai Huchu, author of The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician
"An enthralling novel that has it all: pathos, humour, and an insightful engagement with the history of Zimbabwe. With audacious style, Tshuma manages to step over the pitfalls that would swallow a lesser talent, and in so doing announces herself as a huge talent." - Brian Chikwava, author of Harare North
“In this strong first novel for Zimbabwe-born Tshuma, narrator Zamani possesses many qualities of the classically defined unreliable narrator, particularly deception…A fascinating, often disturbing metaphor for Zimbabwe’s struggle to emerge from its colonial past and remember rather than erase its history; highly recommended.” - Library Journal, starred review
Easily the best debut I’ve read this year, Tshuma’s novel is both hilarious and horrifying, filled with compassion, anger and despair.. (Zamani) is an unreliable narrator of the kind that deserves to be remembered up there with Humbert Humbert—a more recent comparison of a similarly playful, amoral narrator would be from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathiser” - Kim Evans, Culture Fly
"Reading House of Stone is like being punched in the stomach and tickled at the same time." - Ranka Primorac
“House of Stone ties together intimates moments of love and family in the midst of revolution and turmoil, perfecting the balance of the personal and the political…a powerful meditation of identity, politics, and what makes a nation.” - Mya Alexis, Foreword
“Tshuma’s ambitious debut tells the story of the country’s bloody, complicated past—and also a carefully unfurling thriller evoking The Talented Mr Ripley and the film Six Degrees of Separation.” - Emerald Street
“A fantastic piece of literature that tells the Zimbabwean story through the story of Zamani an unreliable narrator seeking to weave his way into the love of the aggrieved family.” - Wisdom Mumera, Kalabash
'“For all the violence Tshuma exposes in House of Stone, unavoidable when dealing with Zimbabwe’s history, she leavens the load with a sparkling exuberance, punctuated by passages of poetry and song, and an abundance of humour and tenderness.” - Linda Herrick, The New Zealand Listener
"Tshuma is our Zamani—feeding us the sweet nectar of historic lyricism, of which we can't get enough." - Books and Rhymes
"..an astounding tapestry of national, familial and personal histories, woven together in one seamless narrative...House of Stone is a remarkable novel, using the intimacy of personal narratives to sculpt the history of Zimbabwe...Tshuma has shown a rare talent for creating blisteringly real characters" - Beth Cochrane, The Skinny
"It is rare to encounter a character who is as terrifying as the above quoted Black Jesus, Tshuma’s masterful creation of inhumane terror...House of Stone is a fascinating blend of history, storytelling, violence, love, patriarchy, and unreliable narration." - Tommi Laine, Helsinki Book Review
"This stunning novel weaves together the personal and national history in a compelling narrative about the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe." - Rabeea Saleem, Book Riot