PETINA GAPPAH

“A writer who can strike bone this solidly can tell us just about anything.” – John Freeman

Petina Gappah is a lawyer and writer who was born in Zambia, in Copperbelt Province, and raised in Zimbabwe. She writes in both English and her native ChiKaranga, also called Shona. She has law degrees from Cambridge University, Graz University in Austria and the University of Zimbabwe. She lives in France with her son Kush and works as an international lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland.

www.theworldaccordingtogappah.com ©Petina Gappah 2015-2025. Website designed by Douglas Beattie. Logo by Elliot Stone Beattie Designs.

The book of memory

(Faber, 2015)

Narrated from Chikurubi Maximum Prison by the only woman in Zimbabwe on death row, The Book Of Memory has been described as a “compelling and haunting novel about the impossible and extraordinary things that people do for love, and the inexorable power of fate.

The Book Of Memory has been longlisted for the inaugural edition of the Financial Times/Oppenheimer Funds Award.  In addition, Goldsboro Books, the largest seller of signed first editions, has selected it as the Book of the Month for September 2015, an accolade it confers on books that it considers “highly enjoyable and potentially collectable”.

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The Last Journey

(Faber)

Petina is currently researching her second novel, provisionally titled The Last Journey. Set against the backdrop of the East African and Indian Ocean slave trade, The Last Journey narrates the stories of James Chuma, Abdullah Susi, Jacob Wainwright and the 60 men, women and children who travelled with them as they walked for nine months from deep within the African interior to bring the body of the Scottish explorer, David Livingstone, to Zanzibar so that he could be buried in his homeland. Petina has been obsessed with Susi and Chuma since she discovered their story as part of her O-Levels in African history in 1988. 


An Elegy For Easterly

(Faber, 2009)

Petina’s first book, the critically-acclaimed short story collection An Elegy For Easterly won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009. It was also a finalist for the Orwell Prize, the Art Seidenbaum First Book Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and Zimbabwe’s National Merit Award.

An Elegy for Easterly has been published in Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Serbian and Swedish. Rights have also been sold to publishers in Germany, Italy and Turkey.

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Rotten Row

(Faber, 2016)

In 2016, Faber will publish Rotten Row, a short-story collection that explores the causes and consequences of crime through a panoramic view of Zimbabwean society. Dissecting lives as diverse as mahwindi, Harare’s infamous conductors, market women, sharp-suited lawyers, garrulous magistrates,  loyalist rural chiefs, corrupt policemen, disgraced teachers, power-hungry security guards, small houses, good time girls and other flawed and fragile characters, Petina crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics to meditate on the nature of justice in a collection that is laced with humour and infused with kindness.

Photos: © Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi