Where The Heart Is by Andrew Chatora is a piece of writing that leaves one reviewing deeply about the aftermath of the choices they make in life. He is also the author of Diaspora Dreams which was nominated for the 20th edition of the NAMA 2022 under the Outstanding First Creative Published Work category.
Based on the life of Fari Mupawaenda, the book takes us through the turmoils of his marriage, filial bonds and identity crisis. The book focused on very important topics which includes:
• BLACK TAX: Fari is plagued by the toll of having to take care of his extended family. He felt he had to send money because he does not want to forget where he comes from. He felt those who did not do so had no sense of family but he failed to see how he was being manipulated as none of those he helped ended up coming to his funeral.
• IDENTITY CRISIS: Fari had been in the UK for over 20 years but he still felt he did not belong. He projected this on his family friends Ben and Taurai as he felt they had forgotten where they come from because they had fully immersed themselves into the Western culture. He ends up going back to Zimbabwe but the country he loves so, has changed immensely.
• RELATIONSHIPS: The book starts wit Fari’s married on the brink of collapsing. Him and his wife are at a stage where their marriage can no longer be fixed and end up philandering. His relationship with his children is torn as he can not accept them as they are and being a “typical” African man leads to his demise.
• MEDICAL ISSUES: Not going for checkups and not having medical aid shed more light on how it is something very important. Sleeping things off is not always a good idea because Fari couldn’t sleep the cancer away.
• HUMAN TRAFFICKING: I was not aware of how rampant human trafficking is in the UK. We see this through the eyes of Leti and end up understanding why she wanted to be with Fari. Immigration is also a topic that was shed light on in this book, how the UK govt handles cases of people who are in danger and how it cares more about how it “looks” than actually doing something.
• ACCOUNTABILITY: I found Fari to be a typical “African” man, he lacked a sense of accountability and self awareness. He always seemed to blame everyone around him even for things he was responsible for, for example, his daughter Yeu. He blamed his wife Maidei for not being responsible for her daughter when she became pregnant out of wedlock. He did not think he too was responsible for taking care if his daughter as a parent.
• DISOWNING CHILDREN: When his son, Muchi came out as gay, Fari was very quick to disown him. He did not want to hear anything from and of his son, and it further worsened their relationship. By the time Fari moved to Zimbabwe and also died, he did not talk to his son. What stood out to me more was how Muchi was affected by this. He had know for a while that he was gay and even before he told his parents, his father did not seem to like him. We see this through Muchi’s eyes and it is also evident by how Fari talked more of his daughter, at times I thought he did not have another child.
I would recommend this book to someone who likes drama, politics and a “serious” read. I feel the author could have done more with differentiating characters of various age groups as they all sounded the same.
Where The Heart Is can be purchased on Amazon.
About the Author:
Hailing from Zimbabwe, Andrew Chatora writes novels and short stories. He received an MA in Media, Cultural and Communication from UCL. His writing explores multifarious themes of belonging, identity politics, citizenship and nationhood issues. ‘Where The Heart Is’ is his second novel following his highly successful debut novella: ‘Diaspora Dreams‘. Andrew is principally interested in the global politics of inequality which he interrogates through his writing. When he’s not writing , he is working on his PhD thesis on digital piracy with Birmingham City University’s School of Media and English.