The Portfolio: Tinashe Mushakavanhu

Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats is a conceptual book that employs a wide range of visual, typographic and structural strategies. Drawing from a 40-year archive of interviews from and with Zimbabwean writers, the ambition of the book was to make the reader eavesdrop on a multigenerational conversation about writing as craft and as a process.

We spent hours and hours scouring the internet, listening to old tapes, watching and transcribing old videos, and searching through the archives. Some of these interviews are locked up in information vaults such as Jstor and Project Muse — subscription-based digital libraries.

There is an extraction that happens in the academy — tourist academics visit our country for a day, a week, months, years or multiple times over a period of years. The finished products never come back to Zimbabwe; they get archived or sold in overpriced hardcover books.

We were also aware of how present-day culture and competing priorities add up to forces that undermine the imagination and deep analysis of our identities, experiences and aspirations.

We chose to format the book as a long extended conversation that brings many Zimbabwean writers, from different generations and backgrounds, together for the first time. There’s no other book like it in the African literary canon; it is unique and individual.


The book is a sledgehammer knocking down the artificial walls of genre and closes the distance between primary and secondary sources, thus providing an opportunity to revise existing narratives, often crafted by academics from Euro-America.

We took what we needed from different literary traditions and bent them into new, exciting shapes.

Visual composition was an integral part of the text — the making of the book was a three-way conversation between writer and scholar Tinashe Mushakavanhu and graphic designers Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Preston Thompson. We sought to discover, in the collaboration, the shape of thought, uphold the materiality of the literary archive, give form to metaphors, reflect different kinds of relationships between syntax and rhythms of speech and reflect on ways of reading.

Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats is a meditation on literary criticism and mythmaking; on writing and reading; and a sustained exercise in combining different fragments.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Tinashe Mushakavanhu
Tinashe Mushakavanhu works from Harare. New York. Everywhere.. PhD English, University of Kent. Tinashe Mushakavanhu has over 3094 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

Disinformation harms health and democracy

Conspiracy theorists abuse emotive topics to suck the air out of legitimate debate and further their own sinister agendas

Uganda: ‘I have never seen this much tear-gas in an...

Counting was slow across Uganda as a result of the internet shutdown, which affected some of the biometric machines used to validate voter registrations.

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…