Zimbabwean author Yvette Lisa Ndlovu has a debut short story collection set for publication on March 7, 2023. Titled Drinking from Graveyard Wells, the collection explores the pain and trauma of African women’s histories, making sure to center the voices of African women in the telling of their own stories.
The collection will be published by the University Press of Kentucky and is labeled as “genre-bending” due to Ndlovu’s experimentation with genre in each story, from surreal to fantastical. The publisher’s note says, “Each narrative is wrapped in the literary eloquence and tradition of southern African mythology, transporting readers into the lives of African women who have fought across space and time to be seen.”
Ndlovu’s short story collection is vast in terms of ambition and scale, and we cannot wait to read the stories contained within. Some of the stories include:
An avenging spirit takes on the patriarchy from beyond the grave. An immigrant woman undergoes a naturalization ceremony in an imagined American state that demands that immigrants pay a toll of the thing they love the most. A first-generation Zimbabwean-American woman haunted by generational trauma is willing to pay the ultimate price to take her pain away―giving up her memories. A neighborhood gossip wakes up to find that houses are mysteriously vanishing in the night. A shapeshifting freedom fighter leaves a legacy of resistance to her granddaughter.
Drinking from Graveyard Wells was also selected for the 2021 UPK New Poetry & Prose Series. According to the book description, Ndlovu’s stories are inspired by her own experiences as a Zimbabwean living under the Mugabe dictatorship. Using her life stories as a foundation for the narratives, Ndlovu “boldly offers up alternative interpretations of a past and a present that speculates upon the everyday lives of a people disregarded.”
Ndlovu calls herself a Zimbabwean sarungano (storyteller). She earned her BA at Cornell University and is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She received the 2017 Cornell University George Harmon Coxe Award for Poetry selected by Sally Wen Mao, and was the 2020 fiction winner of Columbia Journal’s Womxn History Month Special Issue and the 2021 Black Warrior Review Fiction Contest winner selected by K-Ming Chang. She is the co-founder of the Voodoonauts Summer Workshop for Black SFF writers.
Congrats to Ndlovu on her stunning debut collection! Preorder Drinking from Graveyard Wells here.