This Zimbabwean debut is not an easy book to describe. To call it clever or ambitious is to do it a disservice – it is both, but also more than that. It is definitely not faultless, but it is large enough and unusual enough to shrug off its defects and still leave the reader impressed ... not a book for the faint-hearted ... There are no heroes here, only people forced by circumstances to perform the most unspeakable acts to survive ... Sometimes the book is too dizzying: as soon as we have accepted one revelation we are blindsided by another ... Tshuma is incapable of writing a boring sentence: she inhabits her narration so totally that even the most absurd and silly actions become believable. The wordplay and absurdist plot lines act as comic relief, but the author never lets us forget the serious stuff even for a minute, and it is this balance that makes the book work. By the end she has managed to not only sum up Zimbabwean history, but also all of African colonial history: from devastating colonialism to the bitter wars of independence to the euphoria of self-rule and the disillusionment of the present. It is an extraordinary achievement for a first novel.
An astounding tapestry of national, familial and personal histories, woven together in one seamless narrative ... The strength of [Zamani’s] voice carries House of Stone from one deception to the next, yet the heart of the novel remains a tender exploration of what it is to have firm roots in both family and country ... a remarkable novel, using the intimacy of personal narratives to sculpt the history of Zimbabwe for the contemporary reader. Tshuma has shown a rare talent for creating blisteringly real characters, somehow cementing their authenticity in the unreliable histories narrated by Zamani.
One of those books that reminds you what books can do ... Tshuma is such a stunningly talented writer that it makes you excited for a future with writers like her in it ... Easily the best debut I’ve read this year, Tshuma’s novel is both hilarious and horrifying, filled with compassion, anger and despair. The hardback edition published by Atlantic Books is a gorgeous thing to behold and one that you should get in your hands immediately.