I got my things and left.
This, the opening line to Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger, apart from being the coolest opening line in African fiction, is a fair summary of the writer’s life. He was always getting his things and leaving; not that he had many things to get—in his last years, homeless and reduced to sleeping on park benches in Harare, Zimbabwe, all he had were his typewriter and a few books. He died at thirty-five, an age when most writers are just publishing their first novels. It is a mark of his genius that, with only three novellas, some short stories, poems, and essays published during his lifetime, he is regarded today as one of the most influential postcolonial African writers.
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