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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 a writer, literary journalist, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Transition, and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com.

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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.

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