Meet the Judge - Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
The judge of this year's African Performance playwriting competition is an award winning novelist and poet. Shimmer Chinodya was born in Gweru in 1957 and now lives in Harare with his family.
Listen to "Meet the Judge" (23 mins)
He has written several books the most recent of which is entitled "Strife". This novel explores the history of one family and delves into the relationship between tradition and modernity. "Strife" won the 2007 Noma award for African publishing.
Among his other literary successes are "Harvest of Thorns" for which he won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1990. His short story "Can We Talk" was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000.
Chinodya say that he knew by the time he finished primary school that he wanted to be a writer. He studied English Literature and Education at the University of Zimbabwe.
After a some work in teaching and Curriculum Development, he went to the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the United States where he attained an MA in Creative Writing.
He was just 18 years old when he wrote his first novel, "Dew in the Morning" which was published in 1982. This was followed by Farai's Girls (1984), Child of War (under the pen name B.Chirasha, 1986), Harvest of Thorns (1989), Can we talk and other Stories (1998), Tale of Tamari (2004) Chairman of Fools (2005), and Strife (2006).
He has also written children's books, educational texts, training manuals and radio and film scripts, including the script for the award-winning feature film, Everyone's Child.
Shimmer Chinodya has received many fellowships abroad and from 1995 to 1997 was Distinguished Visiting Professor in Creative Writing and African Literature at the University of St Lawrence in up state New York.
He says that his fiction seeks question and tease matters of identity, class and culture, the past and the present, and to explore the human condition in the most interesting and sensitive way possible.
Chinodya says that as a black writer he seeks to portray an African world view although he wants his work to speak to the whole world.
All this experience makes Shimmer Chinodya the ideal judge for BBC African Performance Season. After reaching his decision on the winners, he said he was amazed at the various subjects tackled in our final shortlist.
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