Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

We Are All Zimbabweans Now

By James Kilgore

“Written while Kilgore was in prison, this haunting debut limns an idealistic graduate student’s experiences in Zimbabwe just after Robert Mugabe’s rise to power.… Kilgore has crafted an absorbing read that truly immerses readers in early 1980s Zimbabwe.”


“… More than in highlighting overlooked historical moments, the true brilliance of We Are All Zimbabweans Now lies in its dialogue. Some of Zimbabwe’s great writers have never quite been able to achieve that level of realism.… Kilgore’s ear for dialogue and sense for illuminating underlying social and political tensions give readers a sense for life in newly liberated Zimbabwe—quite an accomplishment for a writer….”


“Kilgore’s devastating and quite funny portrait of the radical expatriates gathered in Harare is all the more effective because he was presumably one of them at the time.… (P)erhaps one can read Kilgore’s moving novel as his own attempt at redemption and reconciliation.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

“Too few writers have Kilgore’s wide-angle vision. This promising first book, vividly rooted in his own experience, leaves me eager to read more by him.”

Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

We Are All Zimbabweans Now is a political thriller set in Zimbabwe in the hopeful, early days of Robert Mugabe’s rise to power in the late 1980s. When Ben Dabney, a Wisconsin graduate student, arrives in the country, he is enamored with Mugabe and the promises of his government’s model of racial reconciliation. But as Ben begins his research and delves more deeply into his hero’s life, he finds fatal flaws. Ultimately Ben reconsiders not only his understanding of Mugabe, but his own professional and personal life.

James Kilgore brings an authentic voice to a work of youthful hope, disillusionment, and unsettling resolution.

James Kilgore is a research scholar at the Center for African Studies, University of Illinois. He grew up in California, graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 1969. Deeply immersed in the political movements of the time, Kilgore became involved with the Symbionese Liberation Army, eventually fleeing a 1975 federal explosives charge. He remained on the run for twenty-seven years. During this time underground, he lived in Zimbabwe, Australia, and South Africa, working as an educator and researcher under the pseudonym John Pape. U.S. authorities caught up with him in Cape Town in 2002. After extradition to the United States, he served six and a half years in prison. While incarcerated, Kilgore wrote We Are All Zimbabweans Now, his first novel and his first publication under his own name.   More info →

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Retail price: $28.95, S.
Release date: September 2011
272 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World except South Africa

Release date: September 2011
Rights: World except South Africa

Additional Praise for We Are All Zimbabweans Now

“In We Are All Zimbabweans Now, James Kilgore has given us an intimate view of one man's journey into Zimbabwe's often horrific recent past. I'm so pleased the book will now be available to American readers. Not only is the novel an essential contribution to our understanding of what went so wrong in Zimbabwe (as well as allowing us to see what went right in the early days), We Are All Zimbabweans Now is wonderfully written, humane, and mysterious from start to finish.”

Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

“James Kilgore is a novelist, scholar, and longtime activist. His riveting political mystery captures the dashed hopes, abuses, and ongoing struggles of the Zimbabwean people in the postindependence period. For those interested in a moving personalized account of the betrayal of the Zimbabwean revolution, We Are All Zimbabweans Now is essential reading.”

Allen Isaacman, Regents Professor of African History, University of Minnesota

“(I)t’s a good story, one that lets you peek into Zimbabwe in the early 80s, how Mugabe managed to hoodwink most of the West into believing he was great, how African politics is even murkier than the usual morass of politics, how it is impossible to know whom to trust, and how the choice between right and wrong is not always an easy one.”

Joburg Expat blog

“The book is fast-paced and funny, extolling two literary virtues often missing on the Left. It is a good read—the work of a great storyteller. But it is also an invaluable object lesson—the work of a committed activist.”

Frank B. Wilderson III, author of Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, winner of the 2008 American Book Award

“Countries and crises, like individuals, can be cast as crude outlines from a distance, in the wide shot; getting up close is the way to reveal nuance and complexity. Kilgore’s novel zooms in on post-Independence 1980s Zimbabwe in just this enlightening fashion, through the eyes and experiences of an American history student, Ben Dabney, who flies in with a study grant and a believer’s heart to witness a settler colony transformed into an independent nation. Kilgore’s evocation of that exhilarating era of hope and change is superb, as those of us who lived through it can confirm. But what the novel does—beyond bringing place and time alive—is to onion-peel some layers of history, opening old and new assumptions to the air with stinging effect.”

Annie Holmes, coauthor, Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives

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