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Nervous Conditions (A Women's Press classic) Paperback – 10 May 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Women's Press Ltd; New edition edition (10 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704347075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704347076
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,725,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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...I am sure it will be a classic. -- Doris Lessing

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you may define it, my lack of feeling. For it is not that at all. I feel many things these days, much more than I was able to feel in the days when I was young and my brother died, and there are reasons for this more than the mere consequence of age. Therefore I shall not apologise but begin by recalling the facts as I remember them that led up to my brother's death, the events that put me in a position to write this account. For though the event of my brother's passing and the events of my story cannot be separated, my story is not after all about death, but about my escape and Lucia's; about my mother's and Maiguru's entrapment; and about Nyasha's rebellion - Nyuha, far-minded and isolated, my uncle's daughter, whose rebellion may not in the end have been successful.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By ruth_hillenbrand@yahoo.com on 15 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a brave, original novel, with a clear-sighted, at times fierce, view of the world.
The novel gives the reader a chance to get under the skin of a Zimbabwean woman at the cusp of maturity, on the brink of making her way in the world - against the odds. Given that I'd never been to southern Africa or studied the socio-political history of the period (the 1960s and '70s), it came as a surprise to be so transported into another mindset and way of life.
Tambudzai's relationships with her family, especially her more Westernised cousin, were fascinating.
It's a very intriguing novel, which I'd recommend to anyone. As well as being a compelling read, it really gives you the chance to learn about - and experience vicariously - another time and place.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
This book opened a window for me into the lives of black African women who manage to gain an education especially at a time in Southern Rhodesia when to be black was to be bottom of the heap and to be female as well was even less advantageous.
The book tells a story of how an African girl surmounts the apparently insurmountable in a patriarchal society to gain an education. The influences of the other significant women in her life, supportive or otherwise and the ultimate affect of that education on her relationships within an African society.
I went to school with the author although she was a year ahead of me. I was a 'European' colonial from Zambia. Tsitsi stood out at school for her brains and her posh English accent which in Southern Rhodesia at that time was a considered a matter worth commenting on. Given the politics at the time - the early seventies during UDI - within the country as well as within the school I was keen to read her book when I heard she had written one. I was not disappointed. The book offered some thought provoking insights into a world that was closed to us white girls despite the multi-racial nature of the school.
I can highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in women's issues and racial issues.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Edwin on 5 May 2005
Format: Paperback
"Nervous conditions" is a book about colonialism and the alienating influence it has on people who lose touch with their roots. It is a dilemma for African children who are seeking education who often find that in adopting the new culture of the colonizers, they often can no longer associate with the traditional ways of their own people. This superbly written book will touch any reader to the core. The writer clearly dissected the negative effects of colonialism and the settler-politics that caused so much strife in Zimbabwe, creating two tragedies in the persons of Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe. This very powerful and touching novel is not only revealing but also opens our minds to more questions, the most powerful of which is the problem of the "colonized mind', a diseases that is still plaguing Africa until today.Another good recommendation is DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE OLD MAN AND THE MEDAL
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sofia on 30 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Set in colonial Rhodesia, Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel chronicles the beginning of Tambudzai's new life after her brother's untimely death leaves the way open for her to acquire an education.

Coming from poverty, Tambudzai's shot at gaining a much-desired education relies on chance and the benevolence of her greatly revered, educated uncle, who believes that someone in every branch of his family should have an education to help allieviate the poverty endured by the rest. However, Tambudzai's initial desire to expand her horizons brings its own challenges and contradictions with it, best illustrated through the person of her cousin Nyasha, whose Westernised behaviour is increasingly regarded as unbecoming of a girl.

Although this is at times quite a heavy read, desribing in some detail the lives of rural African women around their often incompetent but ever superior men-folk, and despite the fact that it has a very unsatisfactory ending, this remains a very thoughtful and insightful book. There are so few African novels about women, that it is refreshing to read about often unseen characters. Although you are constantly aware of their second-class status within their families, schools and society at large, this is engaging and quietly gripping and I'm left feelng that there should be more to come of Tambudzai's story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. M. Holt on 24 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the first novel written by Tsitsi Dangarembga and it won The Commonwealth Writers' Prize. According to wikipedia it was the first novel written in English by a black Zimbabwean woman.

The novel is partly auto-biographical in nature. The story is set in Zimbabwe and told from the perspective of a young Shona girl, Tambudzai (Tambu). Tambu lives with her parents on their small homestead but when her only brother dies she is sent to live with her wealthy uncle to become educated so that she can support her family.

Throughout the book, Tambu longs to be educated like her uncle Babamukuru. Babamukuru is the hero of the family, providing the goat and other food for them to eat at Christmas, providing school fees for her brother and taking responsibility for any family decisions which have to be made. However, when Tambu goes to live with her uncle we start to see his flaws, how he struggles to control his own daughter, Nyasha, who grow up in England and is struggling to adjust to the different culture of Zimbabwe, how he works too hard and is often very stressed and how is wife, who is viewed with envy by the other women of the family is actually quite unhappy and frustrated.

Tambu's father is a lazy man who will say the right thing in front of her uncle but do nothing about it when her uncle is absent. Her mother has become ground down with weariness following the death of her brother and all the work she does on the farm. Tambu's father appears to do nothing.

Nyasha, Tambu's cousin, struggles to adapt to Zimbabwean Shona culture. She has seen a different way of living in England and doesn't see why she should revert back to the traditional Shona ways of (to her) mindless obedience to her father.
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