The stern circumstances that arm-twist many into debauchery just so they can survive have unravelled yet another plot from award-winning author Phillip Chidavaenzi in his latest novel titled The Latter Rain.
BY Kennedy Nyavaya
The veteran writer behind the 2007 National Arts Merit Awards winning novel titled The Haunted Trail and the successive sequel The Ties That Bind explores themes of poverty, abuse and the supernatural, among others, in the potential blockbuster.
In an interview with The Standard Style on Friday, Chidavaenzi, who is also Alpha Media Holdings’s Features and Lifestyle editor, said the idea behind the story was stimulated by unending socio-economic hardships affecting Zimbabweans.
“The Latter Rain was inspired by the socio-economic hardships that ordinary people in Zimbabwe have been going through for many years, so I used the motif of famine to symbolise these hardships,” he said.
“On another level, the famine also speaks to the spiritual depravity in people’s lives as they resort to all sorts of immoral conduct just to survive and go through the day.”
The storyline revolves around two teenage girls who flee their rural home, ravaged by drought and go in search of a better life in the city.
One of the girls flees a cruel stepmother while the other escapes after her family has betrothed her to a polygamous religious sect leader, old enough to be her grandfather in exchange for food at the height of the devastating famine.
“The underlying message is that where physical problems are directly linked to spiritual famine, then God is the final arbiter,” Chidavaenzi said.
In similar fashion as in his past novels, the writer deliberately supports female hegemonic characteristics throughout the story depicting the species as long suffering and resilient.
The notion that women are a weaker version of their male counterparts is a “misnomer”, in his words: “I believe in women’s strength. Although they are referred to as the weaker sex, I think it’s a misnomer. I suspect very few men, if any, can stand the agony women go through during childbirth, for instance.”
Having won an award with his debut and getting a nomination last year for his follow-up, he also believes the novel which took over a decade of crafting was worth the wait and it will strike even greater tides.
“It’s in a way better and more engaging than its predecessors, The Haunted Trail [which won a Nama award in 2007] and The Ties that Bind, which was nominated for the same award last year,” he said.
“The Latter Rain is a special book to me. It’s quite complex in terms of the style I used. It is only when you read that you can understand why it took that long. I think here, I was at the height of my creative powers,” he said.