ISBN 9781779220820
ePub ISBN 9781779221858
Pages 164
Dimensions 203 x 127 mm
Published 2009
Publisher Weaver Press, Zimbabwe
Formats Paperback, eBook

Absent. The English Teacher

by John Eppel

‘When George J. George mistook his white Ford Escort for the moon, he knew his time was up.’

When Mr George loses his job teaching English at a private secondary school in Bulawayo, ‘his pension payout, after forty years of full-time service, bought him two jam doughnuts and a soft tomato.’ When he backs his uninsured white Ford Escort into a brand new Mercedes Benz, the out-of-court settlement sees him giving up his house to the complainant, Beauticious Nyamayakanuna, and becoming her domestic servant.

Through the prism of this engaging post-colonial role reversal, and spiced with George’s lessons on Shakespeare, John Eppel draws down the curtain on one particular white man in Africa.

But before it’s time to go, George will delight us with the antics of his literature classes; his various arrests – all timed to coincide with the police chief’s need for help with essays on Hamlet and A Grain of Wheat; his keen eye for flora and fauna; and the long trek back through the hundred years of his family’s Zimbabwean past, as he returns an abandoned child to her home.

Eppel has satirized the racial politics of southern Africa in many of his previous novels. In Absent: The English Teacher he turns his gaze inwards for a generous and richly rewarding parody of the land of his birth.

Book Preview


"… a welcome contribution to the literatures of the region, and Zimbabwe in particular … a satirical attack on the values and practices that have led to the meltdown not only of the economy, but of morals and commonsense."

Robert Muponde, University of the Witwatersrand

"For all its robust humour, Absent: The English Teacher is a sad novel, a lament for a ravished country and the many lives wasted in pursuit of power for the few. It may be too divided in purpose to be a perfect novel, but it is a fascinating addition to the range of novels that have tracked Zimbabwe's growth to independence and its subsequent decline into despotism."

Absent-Sunday Ind.pdf — PDF document, 440Kb
Sunday Independent, South Africa

"Suffice it to say that only a master storyteller could have achieved all this within the space of 145 pages. I would recommend that everyone grasp the opportunity to be gripped by this book."

ABsent-Die Burger review.pdf — PDF document, 437Kb
Die Burger, South Africa

About the Author

John Eppel

In addition to writing short stories, John Eppel is also an award-winning poet and novelist. His first novel, D.G.G. Berry’s The Great North Road (1992), won the M-Net Prize in South Africa. His second novel, Hatchings (1993), was short-listed for the M-Net Prize and his third novel, The Giraffe Man (1994), has been translated into French.

His first poetry collection, Spoils of War (1989), won the Ingrid Jonker Prize. Other poems have been featured in anthologies that include The Heart in Exile South African Poetry in English 1990-1995 (1996) and Intwasa Poetry (2008) while his short stories have appeared in anthologies that include Short Writings from Bulawayo (2003), Short Writings from Bulawayo II (2005). Writing Now: More Stories from Zimbabwe (2005), Short Writings from Bulawayo III (2006), Laughing Now (2008), and Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe (2008). His latest published novel is Absent: The English Teacher.

Read an interview with John Eppel here:

Related Books