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Laughing Now

New Stories from Zimbabwe

Irene Staunton

Publication Year: 2008

Weaver Press's previous collections of short stories, Writing Now and Writing Still, were highly praised for the quality of their prose and the imagination of their writers. They confirmed, for one reviewer, 'the paradoxical truth that troubled societies somehow produce some of the most interesting writing available. Laughing Now goes further, and demonstrates the enduring capacity of Zimbabweans to find humour in even the most difficult of circumstances. The stories embrace funerals, dancing competitions, family tensions, rampant inflation and endless queues for scarce goods. They take a wry look at pompous politicians, foreign filmmakers and the aspirations of the so-called 'new' farmers. Those by Gappah, Chingono and Eppel won the first three prizes in the recent Mukuru.com short story competition. Zimbabwean fiction in English has become world-renowned in recent decades, but its concerns - war, trauma and the trials of independence - have chronicled the pain of those periods. Laughing Now suggests that we are finding new ways to reflect our reality; that however many zeros we add to the rate of inflation, and however hungry we may become, humour is as good a responce as any.

Published by: African Books Collective


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

Authors' Biographies

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pp. vii-xii

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A Grave Matter

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pp. 1-6

SYDNEY STRAIGHTENED HIS BACK TO admire his handiwork. He wished he was working on film stars in Hollywood, or at least Cape Town, but coming from a family of engine drivers for the National Railways of Zimbabwe that was unlikely. He had stumbled into this line of work after his father, who was meant to be at soccer, walked...

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Minister without Portfolio

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pp. 7-15

‘STEADY MHOFU STEADY … SLOW DOWN!’ It was a harsh command. The Stetson on the woman who sat in the rear fell off her clean-shaven head as the car swayed a little. The contents of her glass spilled onto her lap....

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The Chances and Challengues of Chiadzwa

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pp. 16-22

WITH ROADBLOCKS MOUNTED ON ALL MAIN ROADS out of and into the Chiadzwa area of Marange District inManicaland Province, there was little chance of anyone smuggling out the recently discovered diamonds without detection. Large numbers of soldiers, plain clothes and uniformed policemen and women were deployed throughout the district....

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Last Laugh

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pp. 23-37

At the gate she nearly collided with a cat strapped up in a white bandolier. Two scrawny dogs were alternately courting and kissing with their cordless snouts, or sniffing in the half-light for condoms among food scraps, waste paper and garbage. Trying to make love at the foot of a hill of demolished brick and mortar, they were eager to beat the...

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A Land of Starving Millionaires

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pp. 38-42

THE MILLIONAIRE STAGGERED TOWARDS the long line of tuckshops. The stagger of an inveterate beer-drinker after one bottle too many. Only he hadn’t gulped anything for quite a long time. Four days to be precise. Not even a sip of tap water, due to the unpredictable watercuts in his part of the city. He hadn’t eaten anything either, or nothing...

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pp. 43-46

THEY COULDN’T FIND A SUITABLE URN so they used a two-litre Lyon’s Maid ‘Cornish’ ice-cream container. Bukhosi would have appreciated it. That guy had a sense of humour. All his NGO friends and a smattering of locals were there. Icrisi hugged the plastic box to her swagging chest, Mesafi held the poem she had composed for the...

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Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

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pp. 47-50

FOR TEN YEARS, SINCE SETTING UP THIS FISH-AND-BANANA farm in the lowveld, Mum and Dad have made their sitting room under a tree that is mostly obscured bymymother’s garden, an exultant snake sanctuary of cultivated excess: creepers, buffalo grass, wild bananas, pawpaw trees, vines. It’s as if here, where topsoil was brought from the...

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The Mupandawana Dancing Champion

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pp. 51-60

WHEN THE PRICES OF EVERYTHING went up twenty-six times in one year, M’dhara Vitalis Mukaro came out of retirement to make the coffins in which we buried our dead. And in a space of only six months, he became famous twice over, as the best coffin maker in the district and the Mupandawana Dancing Champion....

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pp. 61-68

PENGA WALKS IN TO FINE FARE’S OFFICE. It is a large office with one side of the wall dominated by a large window that gives Fine Fare a bird’s eye view of the yard from the first floor. His eyesight is legendary and he’s been known to spot a driver unwrapping a chocolate packet in his cab five trucks away. When this happens, Fine Fare simply...

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pp. 69-75

SUDDENLY, EVERYTHING SEEMED TO have gone wrong; but no one could tell what the cause was nor what had really happened. We sat down – Chimoto, Baba Nina and I – and in hushed tones discussed what might have occurred. But exactly five hours and two gallons of thick home-brewed opaque beer later, we’d only succeeded in getting...

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Mpofu's Sleep

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pp. 76-81

IT WAS MPOFU BANGING AT THE DOOR, and it was 3.00 a.m. on a wet windy night in December.
‘What’s wrong,’ I shouted from behind the solid wood, burglar-proof door, for this was Zimbabwe at the start of the twenty-first century.
‘They’ve taken the rabbits.’...

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African Laughter

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pp. 82-93

AFRICAN FILMMAKERS MUST HAVE the above when an international crew wants to set up their film. The foreign producers may be liberal. They may even wear leather sandals. They may be lumpy, drink a great deal of gin and drive a Porsche with a Jewish registration. But the true story is – they will all have a satisfied look that they are really...

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A Dirty Game

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pp. 94-103

IN JANUARY 2003, WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN YEARS OLD, my eldest sister Bernadette sent us an e-mail saying she was planning to marry a Kenyan doctor she had met whilst studying medicine in England. She said the special wedding invite was on its way and the event itself would take place on Boxing Day in an old stone church in a town...

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pp. 104-112

IT’S A STRANGE FAMILY, OURS, A REAL MIXTURE. I manage to avoid most of them during the year, but not at Christmas. At Christmas they all pop again for the once-a year family dinner. Not that we’ll all be together this time. For one, Nicholas and Lisa are in New Zealand. They left in March and live in a place calledWellington. I looked it up...

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9781779221292
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779220684

Page Count: 124
Publication Year: 2008