A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘post-colonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.
Tambudzai dreams of education, but her hopes only materialise after her brother’s death, when she goes to live with her uncle. At his mission school, her critical faculties develop rapidly, bringing her face to face with a new set of conflicts involving her uncle, his education and his family. Tsitsi Dangarembga’s quietly devastating first novel offers a portrait of Zimbabwe, where enlightenment brings its own profound dilemmas.
Tsitsi Dangarembga (born 4 February 1959) is a Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. Her debut novel, Nervous Conditions (1988), which was the first to be written in English by a Black woman from Zimbabwe, was named by the BBC in 2018 as one of the top 100 books that have shaped the world. In 2020, her novel This Mournable Body was a nominee on the Booker prize shortlist.