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Tsitsi Dangarembga

Author of Nervous Conditions

12+ Works 2,569 Members 65 Reviews 1 Favorited

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Image credit: Photo taken in November 2006 during a UK tour, by David Clarke, Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd.

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There's something really frustrating about boarding school stories juxtaposed with real drama happening in the world outside. I still think this is a very interesting mind capable of provoking thought and strong feelings, just maybe not my favorite volume. I guess frustration is a reaction? The loss of self is pretty honest and brutal and unflinching. Structurally this is a bit of a weak middle book, seemingly, we really jump abruptly, but there's a lot of good in it. So painful to watch how the denial of a person can lead to the absenting of a person.… (more)
 
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Kiramke | 6 other reviews | Dec 8, 2023 |
This was a book club selection. The novel is about a young girl in 1960s Rodesia/Zimbabwe struggling to lift herself out of poverty and subsistence living by seeking an education. While this starts out like so many other "impoverished-girl-seeks-education" novels do, it is important to remember this was published in 1988, so it's really the template for those other novels that followed. It is also a bit deeper than some in that it goes beyond the tale of one girl to explore themes like the toxicity of extreme patriarchal cultures and the damaging psychological effects of colonization.

The characters were interesting, varied, and well-drawn. I did not care for the ending. It seemed rushed and went somewhere I wasn't expecting The story had not ben built up in a way that prepared the reader to accept the conclusion. This is part 1 of a trilogy the author penned over 3 decades. I may read the others.
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technodiabla | 44 other reviews | Nov 6, 2023 |
I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling.

Thus begins this coming of age novel of Tambu, a young Zimbabwean girl straddling the divides between men and women, white and black, uneducated and educated, rural and urban, European and African. From the first sentences, Tambu is presented as a strong person relating her story to an other that may not understand her. She makes no excuses and, although she is sharing her experiences, she does not feel a need to justify herself or her decisions. Her voice is quite unique.

Even as children, Tambu's older brother had assumed the role of a traditional, conservative male, feeling an innate superiority to his female siblings. This arrogance was reinforced when their Western-educated uncle chooses him to be educated at the missionary school where he is the headmaster. Tambu chafes at her brother's good fortune, for she is equally intelligent and ambitious. It is only after her brother dies, that her uncle takes her in to be educated.

Life in her uncle's house is revelatory. Indoor plumbing, kitchen appliances, and other accoutrements of a wealthy, Western-influenced home impress Tambu. She doesn't at first understand that her well-educated aunt is as entrapped by her womanhood as her poverty-stricken mother, or the reasons for her cousin Nyasha's rebellion. Slowly Tambu must grapple with the grey choices of escape from poverty by assimilating or remaining true to her village roots at the cost of her ambitions.

[Nervous Conditions] is the first in a trilogy of novels about Tambu. Although this first novel deals with issues of feminism and colonialism, it comes to no conclusions. In fact, that is part of what Tambu learns in this book: that the world is not clear-cut and that ambiguity clouds our choices. Although not as strongly written as [A Girl is a Body of Water] or [Woman at Point Zero], I enjoyed being immersed in Tambu's world and will look for the next book in the trilogy.
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½
 
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labfs39 | 44 other reviews | Sep 2, 2023 |
 
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Kiramke | 44 other reviews | Jun 27, 2023 |

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