House of Stone: Book summary and reviews of House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

House of Stone

A Novel

by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma X
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
  • Readers' rating:

  • Publishes in USA 
    Jan 29, 2019
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a masterful debut that explores the creative, and often destructive, act of history-making.

In the chronic turmoil of modern Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo's teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing, and the Mlambos fear the worst. Their enigmatic lodger, Zamani, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. Since Bukhosi's disappearance, Zamani has been preternaturally helpful: hanging missing posters in downtown Bulawayo, handing out fliers to passersby, and joining in family prayer vigils with the flamboyant Reverend Pastor from Agnes's Blessed Anointings church. It's almost like Zamani is part of the family…

But almost isn't nearly enough for Zamani. He ingratiates himself with Agnes and feeds alcoholic Abednego's addiction, desperate to extract their life stories and steep himself in borrowed family history, as keenly aware as any colonialist or power-mad despot that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future. As Abednego wrestles with the ghosts of his past and Agnes seeks solace in a deep-rooted love, their histories converge and each must confront the past to find their place in a new Zimbabwe.

Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a sweeping epic that spans the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe's turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a young nation seeking an identity, but built on forgetting.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"With luminous language, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma explores the treacherous terrain of colonization and decolonization, remembering and forgetting, and love and betrayal. The result is a gripping account of revolution and its aftermath, both for a country and for one man." - Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer

"Novuyo Rosa Tshuma has written a towering and multilayered gem. House of Stone is one of the greatest-ever novels about Zimbabwe. What a timely, resonant gift." - NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names

"House of Stone is a novel of such maturity, such linguistic agility and scope that you'll scarcely believe it's a debut. Tshuma has set her formidable talents to no less a subject than the emergence of Zimbabwe from the darkness and tumult of colonialism. It's fierce and energetic right to the end, and whip smart to boot." - Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

"To call [House of Stone] clever or ambitious is to do it a disservice--it is both, but also more than that…Tshuma is incapable of writing a boring sentence…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." - Helon Habila, The Guardian

"Tshuma's writing is smart, original, feisty, brutal and gorgeous. She hits the perfect note on every single page in this gripping novel about history, belonging and power. This is the work of an incredible, incredible talent." - Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street

"Novuyo Tshuma is pure fire." - Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

"A revealing chronicle of revolutionary and postcolonial Zimbabwe and a finely engraved portrait of obsession, told in fluid, absorbing language." - Library Journal

The information about House of Stone shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Ann B. (Kernville, CA)

A layered novel in which history commands center stage
This sprawling novel set in Zimbabwe during Robert Mugabe's brutal government marks the impressive debut of Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. The book will appeal to readers seeking a layered, twist-filled #ownvoices story of oppressed and haunted people seeking to transcend the past.

Sharon P. (San Diego, CA)

Mixed feelings BUT very good book
I love this style of historical fiction. It's so important to learn about another country's history from an authentic voice like Ms. Tshuma. I know some readers might be bothered or confused by all the native words and slang, however, I felt it was integral to story. I chose not to research the exact meanings of the words, but instead relished the context in which they were used.

I loved the slow unfurling of the mystery and the stories of each character, but the flashback narrative was a bit confusing. My biggest problem is that I could not muster any sympathy for Zamani, the main narrator. I felt his desperation and manipulation, however, not his heart.

Thankfully, Mama Agnes and Abednego captured my heart, with their flawed pasts and their deep love of their missing son. Through their stories and pain, we the readers can learn about the turmoil, violence, and struggle for a free Zimbabwe.

Mary S. (Bow, NH)

The most wonderful anti-hero
Meet Zamani a conniving, passive-agressive narrator. Through his story, and his attempts to ingratiate himself in the lives of a family, the reader also sees the bloody and violent birth of Zimbabwe as it breaks free of colonial Rhodesia. At times humorous, at times hard to read because of the pain on the page, the plot moves along briskly and continuously engages the reader. A well-written book that would be excellent for book clubs as their is much to discuss!

Suzette P. (Chicago, IL)

A Masterful Tale of Zimbabwe History
The word Zimbabwe is thought to be Shona for House of Stone and this novel is a recounting of the cataclysmic events that formed the nation under Robert Mugabe as told through the personal tragedies of Abednego, his wife Mama Agnes, and their lodger Zamani, who narrates the story. Zamani is a cipher - he wants to be a member of the family and will go to frightening lengths to ingratiate himself, leaving the reader to wonder at his end game. I loved this book; it's wonderfully descriptive and, as Zamani's actions become increasingly disturbing, breathtakingly gripping.While often humorously told, the story is not for the faint of heart - it includes rapes, murders, ethnic cleansing, and wife beating, among other things.But the author's word play is impressive and her creation of Zamani, a great deceiver who is determined to succeed in his goals, is a great literary achievement. Highly recommended.

Gina S. (Long Beach, CA)

A Stunning Debut
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a remarkable debut accomplishment. The premise of the novel revolves around Bukhosi, the teenage son of Abednego and Agnes Mlambo who is missing and the turbulent times of Zimbabwe under the leadership of Robert Mugabe.

Ms. Tshuma’s writing is stunning, the characters are fully developed and the storyline is compelling. She tells the story through the eyes of the main character Zamani’s personal narrative & that of his landlords, Abednego and Mama Agnes.
She demonstrates her skillful ability as a writer to bring balance between what she calls the “hi-story” of her characters with the long & troubled history of her country. Parts of the story are heartbreaking and shocking at times and hard to read but overall it is clever, astute, cunning, and witty.

The book is well written and not only will you learn about the history of Zimbabwe but you will also get a picture of what the people of this nation had to endure & continue to endure to obtain and ensure peace and economical security.

Barbara C. (Fountain Hills, AZ)

Zimbabwe - House of Stone
This is an historical fiction novel wrapped in a mystery. The narrator is a manipulative, self serving character who proves himself duplicitous in his final acts. He is desperate to have himself adopted into a family, as that family's history slowly reveals itself. The chaos of a nation undergoing revolutionary change is painfully and visually described. As a freshman writer, Tshuma writes with clarity, compassion, fervency, and dark humor. The reveal as to what happened to Bukhosi is heartbreaking, and proves that the initial distasteful character of the narrator proves correct. The book was hard to read in some areas, and rather difficult to get into because of the foreign names and words, but as I became familiar with the characters and the cadence of the book, just read along with the flow of ideas and plot .

...12 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe and lives in Houston, Texas. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Displaced, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Her short story collection, Shadows, won the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize and was longlisted for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and serves on the editorial advisory board and is a fiction editor at the Bare Life Review, a journal of refugee and immigrant literature based San Francisco.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Latecomers
    The Latecomers
    by Helen Klein Ross
    The Latecomers is the third novel written by acclaimed author Helen Klein Ross, following What Was ...
  • Book Jacket: The Inflamed Mind
    The Inflamed Mind
    by Edward Bullmore
    It is common knowledge that depression diminishes the quality of sufferers' lives, but few people ...
  • Book Jacket: The Adults
    The Adults
    by Caroline Hulse
    Things have already fallen apart on the first page of The Adults. The novel opens with an emergency ...
  • Book Jacket: News of Our Loved Ones
    News of Our Loved Ones
    by Abigail DeWitt
    The Delasalle family of Abigail DeWitt's News of Our Loved Ones are no strangers to the dark specter...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Becoming
by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Golden Child
    by Claire Adam

    A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Uncommon Type

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks

Surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and a must-have for Tom Hanks fans!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Tell I T T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.