download (2)There seems to be no end to all the good fiction being written about Zimbabwe—Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, Gappah’s The Book of Memory, Huchu’s The Hairdresser of Harare and recently The Maestro, The Magistrate and The Mathematician.

Sweet Medicine, Panashe Chigumadzi’s debut novel is the latest in a growing body of fictional works that represent life in one of Africa’s most influential countries. The novel was published last year by South African press Jacana. It follows the life of a young Harare woman in search of the good things of life—financial independence and romance.

The 24 year old author was born in Zimbabwe but grew up in South Africa. Chigumadzi has always been interested in questions about blackness and femininity. She has built a life of activism around the intersection of race, women, and storytelling. Time and again in her writing, she has interrogated the kinds of stories told about black women’s lives. Vanguard Magazine, a publication that she founded is dedicated to exploring what it means to be black and a woman in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Her novel is essentially an attempt to expand her intellectual exploration of big social and political questions into the realm of fiction. Sweet Medicine tells the story of Tsitsi, a young woman living in Harare. Raised in a catholic home, religion and spirituality plays a big role in her life. She grows up with a staunch catholic mother who impressed upon her the unbreakable link between hard work, prayer, formal education and success. For her mother, a happy future was solidly guaranteed by strong Christian ethics and hard work.

All through her years in mission school and then in University, Tsitsi lives by these cardinal rules on how to attain a happy and successful future. She does everything right and lives her life, for the most part, by the book. As a result, when she graduates from university, Tsitsi expects a happy ending. But life is messy, and after all the hard world and good-girl life style, Tsitsi finds herself irking out a living as a clerk. The question then becomes, should she perhaps consider explore the wild side and compromise her Christian values to find financial success?

Sweet Medicine is significant as a novel attempting to tell an important story about the lives of African women. That’s why you’ll love reading it. You’ve come across women like Tsitsi. You may even have had similar experiences, finding that you’ve been living the life/lie that parents, pastor, and teachers want you to live only to end up with broken dreams. Chigumadzi is asking us to pay attention to the unrealistic and usually sexist expectations and cultural values to which we subject women. Society sets ideals that are virtually unrealizable given the harsh realities of economically and socially stifling conditions.

But the Sweet Medicine not, for all this, didactic or preachy. In fact, Chigumadzi’s aim is to critique a prescriptive culture that holds women’s lives under strict rules of morality and tells them what and how to dream.  When you get down to it, Sweet Medicine is a lovely read, with thrilling dramatic moments and a romance plot that will make your heart flutter.

At 180 pages, it’s a petite novel— excellent for a quick weekend read.

Follow this link to read an excerpt of the novel: Excerpt from Panashe Chigumadzi’s Debut Novel

Here is how to order: amazon.com

************

Author Info:

Chigumadzi

Website: panashechigumadzi.com

Twitter: @panashechig

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The Brittle Paper Literary Awards: New Date for the Announcement of Winners

The announcement of the winners of the inaugural Brittle Paper Literary Awards was scheduled for 23 September 2017. However, a change […]

The Reviews Are In! | Namwali Serpell Has High Praise for Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu

Screen-Shot-2017-09-20-at-4.57.42-PM-e1505944728679 copy

Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu is one of the hit novels of 2017. A historical drama, it tells the story of an 18th […]

New Website Collects Everything Binyavanga Wainaina Has Written Since the Late 1990s

A new Website has collected everything published by Binyavanga Wainaina since his writing career began in the late 1990s. The […]

Opportunity for All Writers | Submit to Vanguard Literary Services’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Anthology

To mark the 2017 World HIV/AIDS Day on December 1, Vanguard Literary Services, a bookselling company in Nigeria, has called […]

The Graywolf Press Africa Prize Launches with Igoni A. Barrett as Judge

igoni a. barrett

A new award just dropped: the Graywolf Press Africa Prize, for “a first novel manuscript by an African author primarily residing […]

Nnedi Okorafor Celebrates Everyday African Life in New Superhero Comic

okorafor comics

A little over two years ago, South African Sci-fi writer Lauren Beukes collaborated with D. C. Comics on a Wonder […]