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The Train House on Lobengula Street

The Train House on Lobengula Street

By Fatima KaraPublisher: Envelope BooksISBN: 9781915023094Genre: FictionPrice: $19.95
Available from: Amazon

The Kassims, a traditional Indian Muslim family, face the contradictions of life in Southern Rhodesia in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. As immigrants to Africa, they enjoyed more benefits than were available to black Africans. At the same time, the Colour Bar held them back from enjoying the full wealth of opportunities available to the white population, locking them into a rigid, racial hierarchy.

Fatima Kara is a Zimbabwean writer living in North Carolina, USA.
The Train House on Lobengula Street, her first novel, grows out her childhood experiences in the Indian Muslim community in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the inspirational response of the community’s strong women to the racial discrimination that was extended towards all non-Whites. The book was shortlisted for the UK’s 2021 Laxfield Literary Launch Prize. The author has an MFA from Spalding University in Kentucky. When not writing, she propagates fruit and nut trees, and assists community leaders to plant them in schools and rural communities around Zimbabwe.


“What a beautiful, compelling, and large-hearted book! Fatima Kara’s characters leap off the pages, alive in both their goodness and terrible flaws, embracing the full range that human beings embody: fear and courage, love and cruelty, magnanimity and pettiness, generosity and greed, the clinging to tradition and the passion for equality and justice. This is an important book, capturing a time and place in Zimbabwe when long-held attitudes were evolving into new ways of thinking and being: changes particularly affecting the lives of countless thousands of women. You will be deeply touched by the Kassim family, so vividly portrayed that you can smell the spices from stews simmering on the stove in the kitchen.”

Eleanor Morse (author of Margreete’s Harbor, White Dog Fell from the Sky)

“March 2023 -The Train House on Lobengula Street- (2023) by Fatima Kara provides a fictional depiction of an under-told story, that of a Muslim Indian family in Rhodesia. Kara’s descriptions are detailed, written with a tenderness that reflects her love for the Indian community of Bulawayo.
Kulsum, the main character, grows in marriage and motherhood in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where she emigrated from Hunyana (India) as a newlywed in 1940. The first volume of the novel begins in 1969 with a family crisis, goes back in time to Kulsum’s arrival in 1940, and then works chronologically back to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of 1965 and the family crisis of 1968. While situating the family’s story in the context of the Zimbabwean fight for independence (attained in 1980), the novel is a battle cry for the education of girls, and one of the central conflicts centers on whether or not to continue the practice of marriage within a family’s “quom” or caste. Overall, Fatima Kara celebrates women’s strength and their worth in every society.”

Lisa Maria Noudehou

“Finally we have the voice of a woman, families and people whose lives have slipped beneath the radar of Southern African writing. Kara’s characters filled my waking hours for weeks after reading her first novel – they cross my mind like old friends and pesky loved ones. The dynamics of families of colour in Southern Rhodesia are juxtaposed with politics, the liberation movement and the struggle to uplift oneself and the next generation. This is an entrancing and stimulating novel by an author who brings places and people that need more space in literature.”

Shaheena Karbanee