... remarkable ... Zamani, however, is too rich and complicated a character to be reduced to any single metaphor or symbol ... Tshuma’s brilliant layering of competing images and metaphors is one of the many marvels of this wise and demanding novel. While Zamani may claim, over and over, that what he’s seeking is a full accounting of history at the most intimate level, the stories that are slowly and painfully revealed suggest that something far more complicated is at work ... stunning ... It’s a remarkable feat. Through Zamani, Tshuma shows us how much work it takes to efface the past, and, through House of Stone, she proves that those efforts are no match for a novel as ambitious and ingenious as this one.
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.
... devastating and inviting ... [Tshuma’s] book slips like sand through fingers through time and voice, masterfully condensing the history of Zimbabwe to the point where the back story is informative and provocative but not cumbersome ... [Tshuma’s] is a novel without a wasted sentence, radiant with its descriptions of people and spaces and moments.