The Hangman's Replacement by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko
Sprout of Disruption (BOOK 1)

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A delightful book for those who enjoy having their perspectives stretched, who take delight in the weird and idiosyncratic, and who love watching a master author do breathtaking juggling acts with the English language.


Zimbabwe’s last hangman retired in 2004. As the nation drifted towards abolition, no determined effort was launched to find a replacement. However, the discovery of carnivorous flame lilies at the Great Zimbabwe monument triggered a spirited search for a new executioner. Those who know why this discovery energized the recruitment effort refused to talk.

The frantic attempts to find a new hangman were impeded by the lack of suitable candidates. Well-placed sources confirmed that the fear of ‘ngozi’ was a deterrent. According to this traditional belief, the spirit of a murdered person torments the killer and his family for generations. However, this is only half the story. Several promising applicants did come forward. None met the minimum requirements for the job. The selection criteria were designed to exclude the mentally ill, the vindictive, and the sadistic. However, they did not rule out the desperate.

The Sprout of Disruption (Book 1) is told through the shifting perspectives of characters whose lives have been set alight by the plant which sparked the recruitment effort. The parallel threads of the story converge around the aspiring hangman who was obsessed with securing the job, the sympathizers who fought to protect him from his prize, and the anxious men who believed that emptying death row would end their horror before the carnivorous plants constricted around their necks.



"At nearly 500 pages, this intricately woven novel is a disconcerting parable exploded to epic proportions. The author renders its many characters, from the mad genius responsible for the impending botanical apocalypse, to the prostitute/undercover operative who falls in love with Abel, to the seemingly simple Abel himself, with frightening subtlety and detail.... A thought-provoking, singularly strange and absorbing novel."

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“This is a work of completely bizarre genius. The author has an almost Wodehousian gift with words, decorating his pages with phrases that can make the reader laugh out loud, question long-held assumptions about reality, or send a chill up the spine with just a few deft descriptive touches. Some of the characters, and the situations they find themselves in, can be completely off-the-wall, but the author’s writing ability carefully makes them almost plausible, even natural."

“This is a delightful book for those who enjoy having their perspectives stretched, who take delight in the weird and idiosyncratic, and who love watching a master author do breathtaking juggling acts with the English language."

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“Yet more than once as I laughed my way through this novel, I was reminded of a quotation by Nikolai Gogol that I came across recently: “The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes.” The humor in The Hangman’s Replacement makes us laugh perhaps to keep us from crying. Again like Saramago, Chiveneko uses bizarre situations and sometimes subtle humor to deliver very deep and often disturbing social and political commentary. I think I would have appreciated the book more if I knew more about Zimbabwe’s history, but even lacking specific knowledge that might have turned story into allegory, I couldn’t help but feel the occasional chill as tragically universal themes emerged.”
“Chiveneko is a talented writer. Beautiful metaphors and delightful descriptions, while sometimes a little overdone, are some of the best parts of the book.”
“The Hangman’s Replacement is a long, complex, and challenging novel. But it rewards the reader’s efforts with delightful characters and plenty of laughter, even in the midst of some very disturbing themes.”

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About Taona Dumisani Chiveneko

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Taona Dumisani Chiveneko is the author of 'The Hangman's Replacement' series. The Zimbabwean citizen was born either between the Zambezi and the Limpopo rivers, or along the road which runs from Mutare to Hwange. Mr. Chiveneko has refused to confirm which option is true. He is also equally circumspect about his age, which he has pegged at: 'More than ten, but less than a hundred-years-old.' Mr. Chiveneko is widely regarded as the most anti-social African author. He is rumoured to have based the Luxon Hurudza character on himself. Even as a child, Mr. Chiveneko was not personable. The boy ignored anyone who tried to start a conversation with him. This behaviour won him the nickname, 'Hombarume', the Shona word for 'hunter'. According to the village elder who gave him the name, the young Taona was destined to spend his entire life hunting for a sense of social etiquette. The elder's prediction turned out to be wrong. The boy never embarked on the quest at all. As a recluse, he spent his life hunting for something else: solitude. Mr. Chiveneko is rumoured to live in a remote location with a hypertensive pangolin, three shrews, and a termite colony (enclosed in a large glass tank). He is also the half-proud owner of two cats. Apparently, he only loves one of them, but is compelled to keep them both. The creatures are inseparable companions. In fact, when Mr. Chiveneko sold the cat he did not like, the remaining one went on a three day hunger strike. Eventually, Mr. Chiveneko was forced to buy back the tubby feline for thrice the price he had sold it. As a miser, this incident was highly traumatic for him. This unusual sacrifice for another living creature reflects a tender side of this enigmatic writer. Nevertheless, that part of the man is very small indeed. During the only interview he has ever granted, Mr. Chiveneko confessed that his childhood dream was to become a taxidermist. However, this ambition was shattered when he realized that taxidermy had nothing to do with replacing the bodywork of taxi cabs. In grief, he bought a diary and vented his sorrow on its pages with a feather quill. The experience was refreshing. Through tragedy, he found his calling. The rest is history. To this day, he still writes with feather quills that he picks up along a popular flight path of migrating geese.
Published January 14, 2013 by Chiveneko Publishing Inc.. 492 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Hangman's Replacement
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Reviewed by Amy Edelman on May 16 2013

A thought-provoking, singularly strange and absorbing novel.

Read Full Review of The Hangman's Replacement: Sp... | See more reviews from Kirkus


Reviewed by Amy Edelman on May 16 2013

A delightful book for those who enjoy having their perspectives stretched, who take delight in the weird and idiosyncratic, and who love watching a master author do breathtaking juggling acts with the English language.

Read Full Review of The Hangman's Replacement: Sp...

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