Tsitsi Dangarembga was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. She studied medicine and psychology before turning to writing full-time and becoming the first Black woman in Zimbabwe to publish a novel in English. Nervous Conditions was the recipient of the 1989 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Fiction, the book has become a modern classic. Nervous Conditions was also chosen as one of the 'Top Ten Books of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century' by a Pan African Initiative in 2002. Dangarembga's sequel to Nervous Conditions entitled The Book of Not was published in 2006 by Ayebia. In addition, she has written a play entitled She No Longer Weeps. Having studied at the German Film and Television Academy, Dangarembga now also works as a scriptwriter, consultant and film director. She is the founder of International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF). She is currently working on the third novel in the trilogy and lives in Zimbabwe.
Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia of the '60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. With an uncanny and often critical self-awareness, Tambu narrates this skillful first novel by a Zimbabwe native. Like many heroes of the bildungsroman, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her curriculum, slowly reaches some painful conclusions--about her family, her proscribed role as a woman, and the inherent evils of colonization. Tambu often thinks of her mother, ``who suffered from being female and poor and uneducated and black so stoically.'' Yet, she and her cousin, Nyasha, move increasingly farther away from their cultural heritage. At a funeral in her native village, Tambu admires the mourning of the women, ``shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out.'' In many ways, this novel becomes Tambu's keening--a resonant, eloquent tribute to the women in her life, and to their losses. (Mar.)
"Dangarembga raises issues about culture, conflict, displacement,
family relationships, consciousness and emancipation in a
postcolonial society. On another level, it illustrates what
children raised between two cultures may have to contend with.
Nervous Conditions will find an audience with young people
(especially women) and those working in health, teaching and social
work professions"-- "Young Minds Magazine"
"It is the late 1960s and Tambu is a 13- year-old in rural Zimbabwe. "Although our squalor was brutal," she says, "it was uncompromisingly ours." Her brother Nhamo has been sent to the mission school in town, his education paid for by her uncle, the family elder. Tambu is thirsty for knowledge, and feels the injustice of being kept on the family homestead, but Nhamo tells her she'd be "better off with less thinking and more respect." Tsitsi Dangarembga's semi-autobiographical debut was first published in 1988, when it won a Commonwealth Writers prize. It has since become a staple on Eng Lit courses, and is now reissued with a scholarly introduction. A coming-of-age story, it ticks all the right boxes for student essayists--colonialism, gender, race--and provides a mine of information about Shona customs. Its appeal to lay readers lies with the guileless Tambu, who starts off as a rather prim little girl but turns into a perceptive and independent young woman."-- "The Guardian"
"Many good novels written by men have come out of Africa, but few by Black women. This is the novel we have been waiting for... it will become a classic."--Doris Lessing