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This Mournable Body, the last book in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s trilogy which includes the modern classic Nervous Conditions (1988) and The Book of Not (2006), is finally here. The 296-page novel is published by Graywolf Press, who released the first print run on 7 August. Canadian novelist Madeleine Thien, author of the Booker Prize-shortlisted Do Not Say We Have Nothing, has called it “provocative and brilliant” and “an extraordinary novel.”

Here is a synopsis from Graywolf Press.

Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare. For reasons that include her grim financial prospects and her age, she moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

In This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. As a last resort, Tambudzai takes an ecotourism job that forces her to return to her parents’ impoverished homestead. This homecoming, in Dangarembga’s tense and psychologically charged novel, culminates in an act of betrayal, revealing just how toxic the combination of colonialism and capitalism can be.

This Mournable Body is further preceded by praise from Vanity Fair: “The novel explores how race, gender, class, and age are at play in Zimbabwe, and the overwhelming strength of these forces in the face of even the most optimistic and ambitious women.”

Kirkus Reviews: “A haunting, incisive, and timely glimpse into how misogyny and class strife shape life in post-colonial Zimbabwe”),

Publishers Weekly: “Heartbreaking and piercing. . . . This is a smartly told novel of hard-earned bitterness and disillusionment.”

And Booklist: “Set in the immediate aftermath of Zimbabwe’s hard-won independence, Dangarembga’s third novel is an urgent and unforgettable tale of the dangers of capitalism and colonialism in the developing world.”

Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of Nervous Conditions, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, which was recently named by BBC among the top 100 Stories That Shaped the World. A filmmaker and playwright, she is the director and founder of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

This Mournable Body is the third major book by a Zimbabwean writer this year, following Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s novel House of Stone and Panashe Chigumadzi’s nonfiction book These Bones Will Rise Again.

This Mournable Body is available on:

IndieBound

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Congratulations to Tsitsi Dangarembga. 

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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