This is an extraordinary first novel by a Tanzanian women writer. The central character, Doreen, tells her story in the first person narrative. Born into a women headed household in a rural area, her inner life and development mirror her life’s passage: education, career, the town, marriage and motherhood.
Whilst not didactic nor impinging on beautifully crafted writing, the novel deals with gender politics from a local level rather than a western oriented feminist stance. Both fatalism and separatism are rejected and the book is imbued with insights and touchstones about the female condition.
Elieshi Lema (born 1949) is a Tanzanian writer and publisher, also active in Tanzania's civil society.
She was born in the village of Nronga and grew up there. She studied library science and worked at the national library. She continued her education by studying English literature at the University of Dar es Salaam and creative writing at San Francisco State University.
Lema began writing poetry and then children's books in Swahili, before writing her first novel Parched Earth in English in 2001. This novel has been translated into Swedish and French and received honourable mention for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. Another of her books for young adults In the Belly of Dar es Salaam was on the short list for the Burt Award for African Literature.