AuthorHouse welcomes a new face to Author’s Digest today: first-time, self-published writer Solomon Mwapangidza. His debut novel, Rebel Soldier, was recognized as the Outstanding First Creative Published Work at Zimbabwe’s National Arts Merit Awards.
Solomon, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born on April 5, 1977 in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. I attended Mutsvangwa, Ratelshoek and Chikore High Schools between 1992 and 1999 before attending the University of Zimbabwe, where I studied Literature and Theatre Arts. I’m currently studying for an MA in African and Diasporan Literature in English with Midlands State University. I teach Literature at Dangamvura High School in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
Do you have any particular literary influences that helped you develop your style, subject and genre?
My imagination was captured by the Romantic novel, and I grew up in a continent that is struggling to shake off vestiges of colonialism, and whose literature largely represents that struggle. I suppose Rebel Soldier is a hybrid between the Romantic novel and the African novel, though I did not consciously make it so. My wife, Linda, once remarked that the book reflects its author’s identity crisis!
Tell us a little about your book.
Rebel Soldier is a story about a young, strong-willed woman, Lizzy Chiwara, who grows up in a highly oppressive patriarchal society in which she witnesses gross abuses against women. As a child, she witnesses her mother being physically and emotionally abused by her father. Her beloved Aunt Rizi dies frustrated and bitter because “they” rejected and murdered her fiancé. Lizzy’s twin, Lucy, refuses to marry the man to whom she is given to appease the avenging spirit of Aunt Rizi’s boyfriend, and she commits suicide instead.
After Lucy’s death, Lizzy must now be married off to that same man for the same purpose, but she too refuses. She vows to never get married or fall in love, in solidarity with her twin and aunt. She pledges loyalty and love to them, vowing to take her revenge on men. But that loyalty is severely tested when it turns out that the man she is being forced to marry is the same man she has always secretly loved.
In a society where belief in the influence of the dead over the living runs deep, Lizzy faces a serious dilemma: to accept this man is to betray her deceased twin and aunt (incurring their wrath,) but to decline the offer is to betray her own heart. What happens to a yearning repressed, a longing sacrificed to principle and loyalty? That is the heart of the story.
Thanks for visiting Author’s Digest!