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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

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.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction 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 Curator at 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 work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. 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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