13 August 2010

Miéville on Marechera

L. Lee Lowe just sent me a great link to a podcast interview with China Miéville for a new series called "The Books that Made Me".  Lee and I share an interest in the writings of Dambudzo Marechera, and I had known, but forgotten, that China also shares this interest.  One of the six books he lists as fundamentally formative in his life is Marechera's Mindblast.  Of Marechera's published work, Mindblast is the hardest to get a copy of, having been published only, to my knowledge, in Zimbabwe.  (I've managed over the years to at least find library copies of all of his other books, but not that one.)

Miéville has talked about Marechera and Mindblast before, and in a fascinating 2003 interview with Joan Gordon he said
I first read [Marechera] a decade ago, but came back to him recently and read all his published work. He’s quite astonishing. His influences are radically different from the folklorist tradition that one often associates with African literature. He writes in the tradition of the Beats, the Surrealists, the Symbolists, and he marshals their tools to talk about the freedom struggle, the iniquities of post-independence Zimbabwe, racism, loneliness, and so on. His poetry and prose are almost painfully intense and suffer from all the problems you’d imagine—the writing can be prolix and clunky—but the way he constantly wrestles with English (which wasn’t his first language) is extraordinary. He demands sustained effort from the reader, so that the work is almost interactive—reading it is an active process of collaboration with the writer—and the metaphors are simultaneously so unclichéd and so apt that he reinvigorates the language.
The new podcast is especially compelling because of the passion with which he speaks of Marechera's writing.  I very much share his desire to see some publisher release a collected edition of Marechera's works, and hope, too, that some of the lost novels are discovered one day gathering dust in the Heinemann archives...

1 comment:

  1. I recently heard the Bat Segundo interview with Mieville, on The City & The City, and I look forward to hearing this one. I didn't know Mindblast was so hard to find -- I bought mine in Harare in 1990, at a little bookstore a stone's throw from the square where Marechera used to write.

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