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Dambudzo Marechera. Photo credit: unknown.

The iconic Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger has been translated into Chinese. First published in 1978 as part of Heinemann’s African Writers Series, the book is a collection of a novella and nine satellite short stories, and has widely been noted as a commentary on the author’s own troubled, tragically short life. Its opening line—“I got my things and left”—has been described by the novelist Helon Habila as “the coolest opening line in African fiction.”

The translation announcement was made on twitter by the English-to-Chinese translator Bruce Humes:

A description of the book from Amazon:

This explosive, award-winning novella of growing up in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), told in exquisite, imaginative prose, touches the reader’s nerve through the author’s harrowing portrait of lives disrupted by white settlers, a young disillusioned black man, and individual suffering in the 1960s and 1970s. Marechera’s raw, piercing writings secured his place in African literature as a stylistic innovator and rebel commentator of the ghetto condition.

While The House of Hunger is the centerpiece of this collection, readers are also treated to a series of short sketches in which Marechera, with angry humor, further navigates themes of survival, madness, violence, and despair.

A mapping project documenting the movements of Dambudzo Marechera in Harare, was shortlisted for the 2018 Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction.

The House of Hunger is the latest addition to a list of 146 books by 66 African authors translated into the Chinese.

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Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a Staff Writer at Brittle Paper. His works have appeared in McSweeneys, the Charles River Journal, Clarion Review and elsewhere. An alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop, his works have earned him nominations for the Awele Creative Trust Award and the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2017 and 2019 respectively. In 2019, he was named by Electric Literature as one of the Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction, with an introduction by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He is a stringer for the New England Review of Books and lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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