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Bryony Rheam

Whatever Happened to Rick Astley?

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NOMINATED FOR THE 2023 BULAWAYO ARTS AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK

NOMINATED FOR A ZIMBABWE NATIONAL ARTS MERIT AWARD

 

'This varied and eclectic collection from Bryony Rheam sizzles with the undercurrent of a continent always on the very edge of chaos and disorder, and yet there is such warmth, strength and humility to the lives of her many eccentric characters. In turn these stories are funny, poignant, at times shocking, but always deeply moving.' – Ian Holding, Unfeeling

 

'Whatever Happened to Rick Astley?, Bryony Rheam’s wonderful collection of short stories, deals with loss—loss of identity, loss of memory, loss of country, loss of someone you love. While the theme seems to be a heavy one, the stories capture the beauty and the magic of the ordinary. There is nostalgia here for what once was, but there is also a lot of hope for what could be. Anything that can give us hope in today’s day and age is truly amazing, and that is what this collection is.' – Siphiwe Ndlovu, The Theory of Flight

 

'Bryony Rheam’s short stories are skilled, perfectly formed, and compelling; the characters are largely outsiders – whether geographically, culturally or emotionally – and completely realised, inhabiting detailed and believable worlds. In all, Whatever Happened to Rick Astley? is a deeply satisfying collection.' – Karen Jennings, An Island

 

'As a well-rounded and gratifying short story collection should, Whatever Happened To Rick Astley? is both an anthology of tiny worlds, each compact and consumable on their own, but they also form part of a bigger collection of work which, on finishing, feel inseparable from one another.' – Megan Thomas, Buzz Magazine

 

'Through her characters, Bryony Rheam explores the themes of parenthood, ageing, lack of money, time past and time present, and immigration ... her fictional characters are compelling and familiar; they also reflect a specific time in the history of Zimbabwe, and will provide compulsive reading for future generations.' – DC Rodrigues, The Financial Gazette

 

'Rheam has a wonderful talent for bonding the reader with the story, tackling emotions that are familiar, looking at belonging, the loss of country, of husband, or merely the passage of time ... This anthology provides a poignant glimpse into the lives of strangers who are nevertheless familiar, to all who are fortunate enough to be able read it. I thoroughly recommend it.' – Pat Brickhill, The Journal of the Britain Zimbabwe Society

 

'Rheam's biggest achievement is her ability to create and curate, as well as sincerely capture the soul of characters, places and relationships. Her characters are unforgettable. She respects the art of creative writing as can be observed in how she is not just for the story, but is able to experiment with form in a manner that only seasoned writers can do. She writes Africa in a sensitive manner – yes, like Doris Lessing." –  Dr Ignatius T. Mabasa, The News Hawks 

 

'Bryony Rheam’s collection of short stories, Whatever Happened to Rick Astley?, is a stunning group of stories that shows the Zimbabwean writer’s range and formidable control of language and tone... Ms Rheam’s control of tone and sentences is formidable – guiding the reader through her world and scenes, which are filled with lushness and strong emotions, with firm and gentle hands.' – Derek Workman, The Kalahari Review

 

'Rheam writes beautifully and skilfully about people whose lives have been affected by waves of migration and immigration; of the generational ebb and flow of people coming to, and leaving, Zimbabwe... I was amazed by Rheam’s ability to move, and to create a deep sense of place, and character, in only a few pages.' – Eluned Gramich, Wales Arts Review

 

 

Whatever happened to Rick Astley? She imagined that he was happily married with children. A record producer, perhaps? That was the usual way with singers, wasn’t it?


From Bryony Rheam, the award-winning author of All Come to Dust and This September Sun, comes a collection of sixteen short stories shining a spotlight on life in Zimbabwe over the last twenty years. The daily routines and the greater fate of ordinary Zimbabweans are represented with a deft, compassionate touch and flashes of humour.

From the potholed side streets of Bulawayo to lush, blooming gardens, traversing down- at-heel bars and faded drawing rooms, the stories in Whatever Happened to Rick Astley? ring with hope and poignancy, and pay tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

 

 

Praise for All Come to Dust:

'All Come to Dust is an intriguing, twisting murder mystery, a witty combination of old-fashioned detective story and keenly-observed portrait of life in suburban Bulawayo. In DCI Edmund Dube, Bryony Rheam has created a fictional detective as memorable as Hercule Poirot.’ Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

'All Come to Dust is one of the best African mysteries of the year.' Michael Sears, New York Journal of Books

'Bryony Rheam has written a ground-breaking book – a captivating detective story set entirely in present-day Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.' Britain-Zimbabwe Society Review

 '...a carefully structured novel that touches on issues of class, race and the colonial legacy in modern day Bulawayo ... will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy character-driven crime fiction with plenty of twists and a memorable and unusual detective figure.' BookerTalk

 

 

 

Bryony Rheam was born in Kadoma, Zimbabwe in 1974. She is the author of This September Sun, which won Best First Book Award in 2010 and was Number 1 on Amazon Kindle in 2013. Her second novel, All Come to Dust, was published in 2020. She has also published a range of short stories in various anthologies. In 2014, she won an international competition to write a chapter of an Agatha Christie novel, the prize being dinner at Agatha Christie’s house in Devon with her grandson, Matthew Pritchard. She was a recipient of the 2018 Miles Morland Writing scholarship. Bryony is an English teacher at Girls’ College and lives in Bulawayo with her partner, John, and their two children, Sian and Ellie.