Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo - review by Lucy Eyre

Lucy Eyre

One Horse Land

Glory

By

Chatto & Windus 416pp £18.99
 

Glory begins with thousands gathering to mark Independence Day, waiting for the Father of the Nation under a sun ‘doling out forceful rays fit for a ruler whose reign was nearing all of – not one, not two, not three, but four solid decades’. The country is Jidada and the attendees are animals, but we’re clearly in Zimbabwe in late 2017.

NoViolet Bulawayo’s second novel traces the fall of the Old Horse (Mugabe), ‘a miserable cheap cell phone on the last 2 per cent of its power’. After he is deposed, there is brief euphoria, with people posing for selfies in the streets with soldiers. Then comes the predictable ascent of a slightly younger horse, known as the Saviour, who, as in Zimbabwe, is the former vice president.

The Saviour promises ‘#freefairncredible elections’ and ‘Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs for Real This Time’, but his rule involves the usual greed dressed up as ideology. Then he moves into position to ‘rule and rule and keep ruling’, as his predecessor had done, offering a future that is nothing more than a shabbier version of the past. The inevitable disillusionment and violence quickly follow.

There’s a glorious wit and rhythm to the satire. The political corruption, failing infrastructure and growing sense of resignation among the citizens are captured in lists and repetitions: ‘The Minister of the Revolution, the Minister of Corruption, the Minister of Order, the Minister of Things, the Minister of Nothing,

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