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Absent. The English Teacher

by John Eppel

‘When George J. George mistook his white Ford Escort for the moon, he knew his time was up.’

When Mr George loses his job teaching English at a private secondary school in Bulawayo, ‘his pension payout, after forty years of full-time service, bought him two jam doughnuts and a soft tomato.’ When he backs his uninsured white Ford Escort into a brand new Mercedes Benz, the out-of-court settlement sees him giving up his house to the complainant, Beauticious Nyamayakanuna, and becoming her domestic servant.

Through the prism of this engaging post-colonial role reversal, and spiced with George’s lessons on Shakespeare, John Eppel draws down the curtain on one particular white man in Africa.

But before it’s time to go, George will delight us with the antics of his literature classes; his various arrests – all timed to coincide with the police chief’s need for help with essays on Hamlet and A Grain of Wheat; his keen eye for flora and fauna; and the long trek back through the hundred years of his family’s Zimbabwean past, as he returns an abandoned child to her home.

Eppel has satirized the racial politics of southern Africa in many of his previous novels. In Absent: The English Teacher he turns his gaze inwards for a generous and richly rewarding parody of the land of his birth.

ISBN 9781779220820 | 164 pages | 203 x 127 mm | 2009 | Weaver Press, Zimbabwe | Paperback


eBook ISBN: 9781779221858


"… a welcome contribution to the literatures of the region, and Zimbabwe in particular … a satirical attack on the values and practices that have led to the meltdown not only of the economy, but of morals and commonsense."

Robert Muponde, University of the Witwatersrand

"For all its robust humour, Absent: The English Teacher is a sad novel, a lament for a ravished country and the many lives wasted in pursuit of power for the few. It may be too divided in purpose to be a perfect novel, but it is a fascinating addition to the range of novels that have tracked Zimbabwe's growth to independence and its subsequent decline into despotism."

Absent-Sunday Ind.pdf — PDF document, 440Kb
Sunday Independent, South Africa

"Suffice it to say that only a master storyteller could have achieved all this within the space of 145 pages. I would recommend that everyone grasp the opportunity to be gripped by this book."

ABsent-Die Burger review.pdf — PDF document, 437Kb
Die Burger, South Africa



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