The Polygamist (Paperback) / Author: Sue Nyathi ; 9780620522601 ; Modern fiction, General & literary fiction, Fiction, Books.

Literature by Zimbabwean authors never disappoints, I knew that Sue Nyathi’s debut novel, The Polygamist would be a page turner. I was right it, I couldn’t put the purple book down. Great cover by the way, it screams ‘BUY ME!’ from the shelves. The book took me on an emotional rollercoaster, from rags to riches.

The setting of the story is Zimbabwe, the book is narrated by four women who come from different walks of life but have one thing in common – the polygamist himself, Jonasi Gomora. Jonasi ensured that his hard work pays off and when it did, he went an extra mile to ensure that money works for him. Because of money, he could have any women he wanted in Zimbabwe.

At the beginning of the book these women don’t know about each other but their lives intertwine as the common person in their lives can’t keep his dirty laundry in the basket. The first wife – Joyce Gomora. An elegant woman who has always been privileged to live in the most elite suburbs in Zimbabwe from when she was a child. Her father had already set the standard for her and the first man she gave her life to had maintain it or surpass it, in that case Jonasi surpassed it. When she met Jonasi, she was 16 and he was 21. She fell in love with him when he had nothing and was just a struggling student, she saw J&J grow like the children she raised with Jonasi, she walked the road to success with him every step of the way.  Like many housewives, shopping in boutiques on random weekdays is mandatory. 

The world is really a small place, Joyce discovers that her husband is cheating on her when she hears two women gossiping about her in the next dressing room. Matipa is her husband’s mistress, she is intelligent and she knows it. She thinks she can sleep her way to the top, literally the top floor where the who’s who’s of J&J harbor space in their offices including the CEO, Mr Gomora himself. Another coincidence occurs between Matipa and Joyce when Joyce goes to hospital to tie her tubes and Matipa gives birth to the twins, when one door closes another opens. However, things between Matipa and Jonasi get complicated and she moves to the UK and gets married to another man.

Essie is Jonasi’s first love they grew up together, he took her to be his second wife after marring Joyce but secretly. She has three children, two with Jonasi and one with a soldier who fought for freedom. Essie knows about Jonasi’s other lovers, she doesn’t exaggerate her importance in his life, she knows her place and she keeps it but she does question why Jonasi is with her. 

Before Jonasi’s health deteriorates he moves in with promiscuous and beautiful Lindani who is fascinated by how rich people in Zimbabwe live, she also has ambitions of being Jonasi’s wife. When the 2008 economic collapse hit, it hit Zimbabwe the hardest. Jonasi’s wealth also vanishes into thin air.

The novel is a beautiful body of work, Sue Nyathi potrays how most African men with money behave. I love how she doesn’t potray the women in the polygamists life as victims but survivors. Most of all The Polygamist provoked many thoughts in me. Was Jonasi’s polygamy worth it?

Yet another book by a Zimbabwean author that made me want to visit the Avenues. If you enjoyed this novel you are most likely to enjoy, Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi.   

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