Tsitsi Dangarembga.

The Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga was recent featured in The Guardian‘s “Books That Made Me” series, in which authors answer questions about other writers’ works that impacted their careers. Dangarembga is the author of the classic Nervous Conditions, and her most recent novel This Mournable Body was published by Graywolf Press in 2018.

Among the writers she mentioned are Namwali Serpell, whose The Old Drift gives her “a Zambian perspective”; Zukiswa Wanner, whom she reads “for comfort”; the Malawian novelist Shadreck Chikoti, whose Azotus the Kingdom “is most underrated”; Ben Okri, whose latest novel The Freedom Artist “was like taking a course in creative writing”; Zakes Mda, whose Ways of Dying “made me cry”; and Toni Morrison, whose Beloved “changed my life.” Also discussed are Doris Lessing, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Margaret Atwood.

Here is an excerpt.

The book I am currently reading

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I opened Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift to give me a Zambian perspective.

The book that changed my life

Reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved changed my life. My work so far has been about pain. Until very recently, admitting to feeling any pain that is not clearly physical was an admission of weakness in my culture. Morrison taught me decades earlier that articulating pain and the failure of hope is the stuff of literature.

Read on in The Guardian.