Send Her Back and other stories
Told in a series of vignettes, Munashe Kaseke’s Send Her Back tells readers stories of the Zimbabwean experience in current America. There are fifteen short stories, some connecting with each other told over a nonspecific amount of time. Although the shape and perspective of the stories are different, the underlying themes of cultural experience, family, racism, and womanhood are interwoven throughout. Kaseke’s words are captivating, and her characters and their situations have a real-world impact on them. This is a daily-life representation of women of color in America. It feels real, raw, and simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful.
This book transcends cultural experience into the human experience and creates a bridge into understanding both. Everything from blatant racism to familial expectations in daily life is explored. In “When Zimbabwe Fell for Wyoming”, microaggressions disguise themselves as compliments as an interracial relationship is explored and a woman faces meeting her significant other’s family. “The Collector of Degrees” is a story about student visas and dependents in America and how the system forces students to stay in the cycle of schooling in order to stay in the country. Despite the want and willingness to break out, work hard and “realize the American Dream,” the main character is constantly turned back into the system that denies her jobs. The titular story, “Send Her Back”, showcases the ripple effect of circumstantial racism. “The Rising” is about an ancestral fight for a better future seen through the eyes of a child.
The stories pivot back and forth from different points of view. Some characters have names (Vimbiso in “Send Her Back”) and others are told in the second person (“You” in “The Collector of Degrees”). The changing perspectives allow the reader to experience these stories to varying degrees. It’s a clever device the author uses to make the reader see these stories from every angle. Whether you are a window viewer or standing in the middle of the narrative, the intention is powerful.
An immigrant of color herself, Kaseke creates this series showcasing the experience of women in America. The characters are all women of different ages, statuses, and experiences. Some characters have multiple stories interweaving within each other and the timeline isn’t linear making the perspective interesting and keeping the pace moving. Themes of police aggression, familial expectations, cultural shifts, money, material items and their values, and toxic relationships are all expanded upon in these different segments and stories. According to the author’s bio, this is a debut novel. This is certainly an author to watch out for. The clear prose and interweaving storylines are both eye-catching and beautifully written.
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|Poetry & Short Stories