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This Mournable Body

A Novel
Tsitsi Dangarembga
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.

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A searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors

About the Author

Tsitsi  Dangarembga
Credit: Mateusz Zaboklicki
Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of This Mournable Body, and two previous novels including Nervous Conditions, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She is also a filmmaker, playwright, and the director and founder of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.
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  • “A haunting, incisive, and timely glimpse into how misogyny and class strife shape life in post-colonial Zimbabwe.”Kirkus Reviews
  • “Heartbreaking and piercing. . . . This is a smartly told novel of hard-earned bitterness and disillusionment.”Publishers Weekly
  • “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.”Booklist
  • “A haunting evocation of the nature of small defeats. Only a writer steeped in Zimbabwean life—with her unflinching gaze fixed on the individual, and with a social vision that brooks no sentimentality—could have given us the fraught heroine of this starkly written novel. Tsitsi Dangarembga proves yet again that hers is a maverick voice.”—A. Igoni Barrett
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