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Rotten Row

by Petina Gappah

A collection of interconnected short stories which illuminate life in contemporary Zimbabwe. Stories of violent crime, corruption & so called justice, based loosely around the road of the same name in Harare. From the first story of a hangman to the gossiping women in a hairdressers sharing the news of the stabbing of a friend, we meet vivid characters painted with pathos & surprising humour. Gave me a real insight into another world.

Extract

She saw the kombi (omnibus) as part of her investment strategy for the day she would return home, but there has been no return, either for her or for her investment. The brother in whose care she left it spends nothing at all on its maintenance. And so it is that the legally mandated fire extinguisher under the seat is nothing but an empty red can with a nozzle and fading lettering. Thick sheets of semi-transparent plastic sheeting have replaced the glass windows. The factory-made sign says '12 passengers only', but extra wooden benches have been built in to make room for an additional eight. Travelling calls for posterial dexterity, the most comfortable position for any passenger is to sit on one buttock. Passengers are usually so tightly packed that they do not need seatbelts, which is just as well because those are as distant a memory as the front indicator lights. By the end of the journey, they will know each other more intimately than is, perhaps, proper for strangers.

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