- Category: TOW 2006
Brian Chikwava, is among the exciting new generation of writers emerging on the African continent. Although born in Bulawayo, Chikwava's formative years were spent in Harare, where he attended university and frequented the popular artistes' venue The Book Café. As a regular and active artist, he participated in poet's evenings, public discussions and music performances. In what he describes as his ‘widely eclectic creative apprenticeship' his work spanned a number of different artistic conventions and it is here that he started exploring different genres with other young visual artists, musicians and contemporary dancers, culminating in 2001 in the part improvised part scripted show Rhythm of The Mind.
Chikwava believes that “the writer is a necessary neurotic in any society, especially in a repressive environment as that existing in my country because, as strange as it may sound, it is this terribly egocentric creature who harvests society's private truths, the existential truths that free the individual from the grand political narratives of politicians”.
Brian Chikwava is the 2004 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Seventh Street Alchemy. It is the story of a prostitute in Harare who is trying to establish her identity, not in any idealistic or existential sense, but in a purely bureaucratic sense. But much more than just a story of the circular machinations of bureaucracy in the hands of petty minded officials, the story is also about a woman surviving on the streets of Harare, on the intersection of Seventh Street and Samora Machel Avenue.
He is at present a Charles Pick fellow at the University of East Anglia, and currently working on a novel alongside a short story collection.