Dystopian and Utopian Homecomings in Shimmer Chinodya’s Harvest of Thorns and Olley Maruma’s Coming Home
AbstractThe two novels chosen for this paper represent divergent versions of homecoming. Most interestingly, Harvest of Thorns (1989), a victim of scathing attack by cultural nationalists for its suggestively anti-establishmentarian title, and Coming Home (2006), are novels written at different times and feature two different characters whose versions of homecoming do not agree with their particular ‘callings’. The central character in Harvest of Thorns is an ex-guerrilla of the Second Chimurenga (war of liberation that ushered in Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980) who is depicted by the author as having failed to integrate into the ‘home’ he was fighting for. This dystopian depiction of the ‘home’ to which the central character, Benjamin, comes back after the war does not agree with the clichéd rhetoric of nationalist narrative that sees the birth of the new nation in 1980 as the pinnacle of nationalist achievement. On the contrary, Coming Home was written by a euphoric homecoming author and intellectual; his narrator is also ‘coming home’ (and celebrates all the associated nationalist utopias of that period) at a period leading towards 1980. Why would Coming Home be written in 2007 at a time when the majority of Zimbabweans were exiting home? These divergent views beg for closer analysis of the texts especially focusing on how Harvest of Thorns shatters nationalist narration while Coming Home desperately reconstructs it.
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