Read an excerpt from Rotten Row by Petina Gappah
Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. Her debut story collection, An Elegy for Easterly, won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009. Her debut novel, The Book of Memory, was published in 2015.
Rotten Row, a collection of stories on themes of crime and justice, class, race, gender and sexual politics in contemporary Zimbabwe, is her third book.
About the book:
In her accomplished new story collection, Petina Gappah crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics in Zimbabwe to explore the causes and effects of crime, and to meditate on the nature of justice.
Rotten Row represents a leap in artistry and achievement from the award-winning author of An Elegy for Easterly and The Book of Memory. With compassion and humour, Petina Gappah paints portraits of lives aching for meaning to produce a moving and universal tableau.
Bookanista has shared an excerpt from Rotten Row, from the story ‘The Old Familiar Faces’:
The Old Familiar Faces are unhappily gathered at a once-elegant four-star golf resort and conference centre to which tourists no longer come. In the reception area and in their workshop room, the Jacaranda room on the second floor, banners proclaim the theme of their workshop: “Assessing, Analysing and Evaluating the Impact of Political Violence on the Coming Election: Problems and Perspectives from a Problematic Past.”
The banners are emblazoned with the Vision Statement of Umbrella, the organisation that has convened this workshop. “Our mission is to passionately partner human rights organisations in Zimbabwe in improving their competitive performance by professionally supporting and actively encouraging a professional and active human rights environment in Zimbabwe underpinned by a record of achievement, professionalism and excellency.”
The Vision Statement was developed painstakingly by Umbrella’s senior staff at a four-day Strategic Planning workshop in Victoria Falls, with the assistance of a highly paid motivational speaker slash pastor and a donor-provided management consultant. After the opening prayer and the introductions, after the pam-pam of appreciation for the moderator and the resource persons of the morning session, after all protocol had been observed and after the welcoming of the Special Guest, who is the new First Secretary at the European embassy that is the sponsor of this event, the Familiar Faces cluster to bemoan their fate over Choice Assorted biscuits, lukewarm tea and instant chicory coffee.