The Polygamist

By Megan Thomas

I’ve been away and without my Kindle, and this title wasn’t easily available in hard copy in the UK, so I dabbled with the phone app for the first time – it’s definitely a different experience from book/Kindle, but it’s really practical at times. Do you read on your phone ever? It felt weird photographing it like this, but I quite like the juxtaposition in the imagery.

This was the first novel of Sue Nyathi’s, and a cracking good start that makes me excited to move onto her second and third novels. A trigger warning: this book contains scenes of sexual assault.

The title is quite self-explanatory: this is the story of four women and their (mostly unknowing) shared relationship with an abusive, philandering trash bag of a human being who also happens to be one of the richest business moguls in Zimbabwe and the father to their children. Set in Zim prior to and during its financial crash, and so offering interesting scope to observe the societal transition which took place, this is kind of like the Harare version of Crazy Rich Asians.

I was concerned by the blatant notion of the whore-mistress as the perpetrator of wrong verses the man with 4 wives and 8 children, but I don’t think fiction necessarily has to offer moral commentary on what it’s presenting, especially when the reality is that women are often blamed for men’s adultery.

No character is faultless, but they’re also somehow all likeable to a certain extent, which shows the depths of Nyathi’s writing. It’s simultaneously devilishly fabulous, unfathomably debaucherous, and oozing with gold rings and gold diggers: a window into the high-baller life that I’ve only heard rumours about.

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