Perfect Imperfections, the debut novel by Makanaka Mavengere-Munsaka has been out since mid-August 2019 from BlackBird Books!
We caught up with Makanaka about her first offering.
In a previous life, you were an accountant. How did you move into writing?
Writing was always my first love but I had gone into Accounting because back then that was the only option I was given. When I turned 30 I realised that my life was passing me by. I was unhappy and could no longer blame my parents for where I was, so I started writing for fun and with time I started applying for freelance writing jobs using my blog as a reference. I also started writing my book in the same year and because I felt so happy and free I made the choice to take it up full time and quit my job and here I am.
What inspired your debut novel?
My inspiration came from the stories I heard while riding in buses, at work, at gatherings, and stories I read about. Some were my own experiences. Sometimes I loved a story but hated some parts especially the ending I decided to write my own that would end in a way that I wanted.
The book is centred around the lives of 4 womxn through the eyes of a domestic worker. What did it mean to you have a story so strongly centred around womxn?
I wanted to write a story for women, by women and about women. a story that women could relate to and in some cases have them look at their lives from a different perspective, change the narrative that is out there, where women are expected to act and be a certain way.
I needed also to send a message to women that they are not alone in their struggles its just that some hide their imperfections so perfectly which should not be the case.
Tell us more about Maxine and the themes you explore through her journey.
Maxine represents the hero in all of us. She knew what she wanted from the beginning and although life happened and she found herself in a seemingly hopeless and impossible situation she had to make a decision to save herself so as to become the person she knew she was.
I wanted to explore the themes of how traditional beliefs, culture and societal expectations sometimes are the chains that hold us back and in some cases become the reason behind the decisions we make as we want to be on the right side of society and respect our tradition.
I wanted to tackle the issue of abuse and how sometimes people who are not in the situation fail to understand how deep the abuse may be and how our childhood experiences mould our lives.
I wanted to tackle infidelity and some of the justifications that exist and the fact that society has made it ok and acceptable for men to be unfaithful yet it is unheard of for a woman to do the same.
I also wanted to make people understand the fact that we can never judge another if we do not know their story.
I also felt that it was important to explore friendships and how they are important and how various friendships require different things.
Marriage was an important theme to cover especially for women in a context that heavily rely on culture. I wanted to say through the story that marriage is not the beginning or end, it’s not an achievement and its not all fun and roses, as people face real issues and that its OK if someone decides to walk away.
What do you hope for your novel?
I would like my novel to be on every shelf and on every book club MUST read list. I also would like to turn it into a movie or film and I would love to be on Oprah’s bookclub list because I know it is a great story
You wrote about womxn from Zimbabwe, tell us more about this?
Being from Zimbabwe it was important for me to open the doors for readers to experience Zimbabwe in a different light than what is currently known of the country but more importantly I thought it was best to write and talk about the people I know and explore the cultures, beliefs and behaviours I have experiences and I know of instead of trying to write about what I am unsure of.
Your book is entitled Perfect Imperfection, tell us a little more about this?
Perfect Imperfections came from the fact that women are socialised to pretend to be okay when they are not, a trend that dates back generations. They need to pretend that everything is perfect from the outside but inside the situation is quite the opposite and many hide these imperfections by using makeup, other by putting up this superwoman front, making it seem like they got it all together when it’s not the case. So, Perfect Imperfections was the phrase that encompassed that.
Follow Makanaka on Twitter (@makanakam)