Actual rating: 3.5Full review: http://onabookbender.com/2011/06/24/review-the-hairdresser-of-harare-by-tendai-huchu/This was a surprisingly quick book to read. Despite the heavy — and controversial — issues that The Hairdresser of Harare raises, it won’t be a book where the prose weighs you down; Tendai Huchu’s writing style is approachable and smooth. Vimbai is our straight-forward narrator, and though she takes her own sweet time in setting us up with background knowledge, the story propels itself toward the inevitable ending of which we are warned from the very beginning. Although we are given inklings of what is awaiting us at the end, there is not enough information to guess the exact details, even with our building suspicions.Being slightly arrogant, Vimbai is not the most sympathetic character ever, and I found myself more drawn to the story and how the situation unraveled than her plight. Dumi is perhaps the character that will most pull on your heart strings — he certainly pulled on mine. Casting Dumi as a hairdresser — unheard of in Zimbabwe, and relatively uncommon in the United States — is probably one of the best professions that puts male sexuality at the forefront, questioning it. My mom does hair for a living, and up until a few months ago, the only male hairdresser in the salon was her boss. Then they hired two young men. One of the first questions that popped up — correctly or not — was, “Are they gay?”My heart breaks for what Dumi had to endure, and also for the beliefs that make Dumi’s life impossible. Vimbai believes that a rapist ranks above a homosexual. That is, until she is confronted with a homosexual. Even then, her actions lead to dire consequences. This is not a happy story. Like the back cover says, this book is like eating dark chocolate — bittersweet. But in many ways, it is important to read, if only to understand.