Perfect Imperfections – Makanaka Mavengere

Manaka and Pamela before the Anele show
Manaka and Pamela before the Anele show

I met Makanaka for the first time when I went on the Anele Show in 2017. She was a researcher and scriptwriter for the show and I was a nervous guest, but she soon put me at ease with her warmth and wonderful sense of humour, not to mention her brilliant research skills. PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS is her first book, and it is published by the fabulous BLACKBIRD BOOKS. Makanaka took time out of her busy schedule watching Money Heist and wringing the last drops of red wine out of her remaining bottle of the good stuff to answer a few questions for me.

Tell us something interesting about you.

I was born on 29 February but I shall NOT mention the year (Puleeze! You look about 12)

What is the book about?

PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS follows the story of Maxine who escapes an abusive polygamous marriage to a man much older than her to make a new life in Harare, Zimbabwe. She then finds herself working as a maid in four different houses. The story then follows the madams she works for and through them, we see the struggles of women trying to hold down careers and relationships in a big city while struggling with tradition, patriarchy, domestic abuse and unhealthy societal behaviours. As Maxine bears witness to the women’s lives, she also tries to work through her own issues, finding a way to free herself from the cruel man she married and experience meaningful relationships. 

The book explores women learning about and seeking the love they feel they deserve. Whether self-love or romantic love, each woman must find the courage to believe in and hold onto that love. Through Maxine’s narration, the intricacies of the relationship women share with their helpers is uncovered. These relationships reveal the truth that women can discover themselves via their friendships with other women.

Lives Derailed discussion at the open book festival in Cape Town 2019. We were anxiously awaiting the wine glasses with Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Bongani Kona and Rémy Ngamije
Lives Derailed discussion at the open book festival in Cape Town 2019. We were anxiously awaiting the wine glasses with Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Bongani Kona and Rémy Ngamije

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a book about women I know, a book they can relate to and a book that can make women have difficult discussions about issues they usually face alone and sometimes hide behind their perfectly made-up fronts.

I also wanted to write a book whose ending I actually liked, if you don’t like the ending to a book WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK (excellent advice!)

Who do you think this book will appeal to?

Women of all ages who love a good laugh, a glass of holy water (the thirst is real) and great company. This book is a great book club read TRUST ME. It’s for those who enjoyed The Women’s Room by Marilyn French or The Thirtieth Candle by Angela Makholwa.

Tell us about your journey to getting published. Talk us through both your lowest point (the ugly crying moments) and your highest point (cracking open the ten year old bottle of red).

Makanaka-Mavengere - Perfect Imperfections

It was a very long, lonely and trying journey and the funny thing is that Thabiso (from Blackbird Books) was the first publisher I sent my sample chapters to and she rejected it and thousands more after that over a two year period. I then gave up for like two months then I reworked my synopsis and pitch and started sending again. Thabiso was the last one I sent to and I had told myself that after that I was going to forget about it cause self publishing was not really an option for me…and well, the rest is history (persistence pays!)

If you’ve been longlisted/shortlisted/won any awards/had your book optioned for TV/film/achieved bestseller status tell us about it…

Imagining myself sipping on red wine and smiling when my name is on the screens and in the newspapers

Makanaka-Mavengere, author of Perfect Imperfections, book Reading in Maboneng with Among the Lilies

Talk us through your writing process. Do you write thousands of words a day, 200 words a day, lie on your bed and cry until a few hours before your deadline?

I just start with a single sentence and I go through phases where I produce thousands of words then there are days where the magic is just not there and in those days I have had to learn to not beat myself too much about it

(image: Book Reading in Maboneng with Among the Lilies)

What’s next for you?

I am still writing, trying to find my feet as a scriptwriter; it hasn’t been easy and I’m waiting on the next big idea to pass my way

Advice to aspiring writers (you may not say ‘RUN now’).

Just start writing, read as well and listen, some of my stories came from me merely listening to people on the bus, train, in a restaurant or from reading.

Makanaka Mavengere the author of Perfect Imperfections

Any books you’d like to recommend?

  • The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije
  • Things I want my daughters to know by Elizabeth Noble
  • Adultery by Paulo Coelho
  • The help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Rat Roads by Jacques Pauw

(image: Makanaka with Lisa, assistant director of the play “Maid in the Mirror”)

How are you keeping sane during the #coronalockdown? Have you managed to write/read during this time?

In between home-schooling, reading, waiting for the next episode of Money Heist, trips to the fridge and thinking about the last glass of wine I had; there have been ABSOLUTELY no fingers tapping on my keyboard. NADA. (You are not alone ☹)

Where can the fans get your book?

Exclusive Books, Bargain Books, Love Books…

Thank you so much for taking part in #FridayReads. Support your favourite bookstore and Blackbird Books and order the book now!

With my faves Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Rémy Ngamije at the SA Book Fair in Johannesburg
With my faves Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Rémy Ngamije at the SA Book Fair in Johannesburg