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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!
I really enjoyed this sequel to 'Nervous Conditions'. I did find the first chapter quite hard to make sense of at first (I'm still baffled slightly by Netsai's exploding leg), but once I got into it I found the narrative comlpetely captivating and was unable to put the book down. Darambenga is truly amazing at creating such life-like characters that I found myself...
Published on 16 Aug 2007 by Jim Anso

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A case of 'middle book syndrome'?
This is the sequel to the excellent novel 'Nervous Conditions', which is one of my favourite books. As such, my expectations were extremely high. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed. The 'Book of Not' picks up not long after 'Nervous Conditions' ended, and is again narrated in the first person by Tambu, a girl from a poor village in Rhodesia who gets the opportunity...
Published 11 months ago by BookWorm


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!, 16 Aug 2007
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This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this sequel to 'Nervous Conditions'. I did find the first chapter quite hard to make sense of at first (I'm still baffled slightly by Netsai's exploding leg), but once I got into it I found the narrative comlpetely captivating and was unable to put the book down. Darambenga is truly amazing at creating such life-like characters that I found myself completely immersed in Tambu's situation.
I would say that it is true that Tambu's voice is very different from her voice in 'Nervous Conditions', but that is a reflection of Darembenga's skill as a novelist rather than a criticism. The narrative follows Tambu's character and watches as it is morphed by the Western eduction that she is provided with. What we are left with at the end of 'The Book of Not' is a Tambu who has become completely alienated from her birth mother and the culture she was born into- whilst at the same time she is alienated from the Western 'white' culture that her education has attempted to initate her into.
A great book - completely unforgettable!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking..., 29 Aug 2006
By 
azul "esperanza" (Gran Canaria & London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
I bought copies of 'Nervous conditions' and 'The Book of Not' on the same day. I was captivated by the first book, and I could not put it down until I was done with it! The richness & insights of the book lied in the ever so engaging dialogues between Tambu and Nyasha... the power, strength and determination they showed proved to be inciting...when I turned to 'The book of not', I found it difficult to read... I could not recognise the voices of Tambu and Mai, Tambu's mother. Time had passed, and a war had started, but the change in the characters' voices I thought were more to do with the time the author (Dangarembga) took to write this sequel than to the characters' own development... Nevertheless, once again I did not close the book until I was done with it. The second is more incisive on the issues concerning colonization & post-colonization in this region of Africa... and all along I wished the spirit of that very young Tambu back in her homestead tending her corn would have been able to conquer all the absurdities of this world! I cannot wait for the next novel from Tsitsi Dangarembga (I once read it took her this long for she lacked a room of her own to write... I hope she has it now!!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A case of 'middle book syndrome'?, 7 Aug 2013
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
This is the sequel to the excellent novel 'Nervous Conditions', which is one of my favourite books. As such, my expectations were extremely high. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed. The 'Book of Not' picks up not long after 'Nervous Conditions' ended, and is again narrated in the first person by Tambu, a girl from a poor village in Rhodesia who gets the opportunity of a good education thanks to her European-leaning wealthy uncle. Through extremely hard work, Tambu has won a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, and this novel charts her progress there and in the world of work, against the background of civil war and eventual Zimbabwean independence.

Whilst on the face of it, the novel has many of the ingredients that made its predecessor successful, including some similar themes and much the same characters, it is an infinitely less enjoyable book. For one thing, it is unrelentingly gloomy. Not emotional and moving, but grindingly depressing. In reading it you begin to feel that even in your own life, nothing will ever go right. It may well be realistic, but it's just a bit too realistic. It lacks the humour which 'Nervous Conditions' featured alongside the pathos. One of my favourite aspects of the original novel was the relationship between Tambu and her brilliant but troubled cousin, Nyasha. The latter was my favourite character. But in this book, she features very little, and is dropped entirely by the end. In many ways, Nyasha was a more interesting character than the solemn Tambu, and in fact the two balanced each other out, creating a perfect contrast which made the original work so well.

A lot of this book is bogged down in lengthy meditations by Tambu on how to succeed in education and cultivate 'unhu' - a sort of saintliness that she thinks will enable her to rise above the petty miseries of her school and achieve the excellence she is desperate for. This is not particularly entertaining. Tambu herself becomes a character who feels very remote and is often hard to like, which is in complete contrast from how I felt about her before. The other characters are not well developed and because of Tambu's emotional isolation, are difficult to get to know or empathise with. Removing Tambu from the family setting of the first book seems to destroy one the of the best things about the story.

The writing quality is still good, and parts made me furious with the injustice of the situation. It feels realistic, although I have never been to Zimbabwe myself, and is unafraid to tackle difficult and unpalatable subjects. It is a bitter indictment of colonialism and the damage done by even well meaning Europeans, but also of the brutality of the rebels who killed not only white farmers but native Africans who they did not agree with. The portrayal of the extreme strictness and sky high expectations of a middle class African family is interesting, especially compared to the praise-obsessed culture in modern Britain where pushing children is frowned upon in case of causing emotional damage. However as with everything in Dangaremba's books, it is balanced with the equally damaging behaviour of Tambu's small-minded, bitter parents. These elements of the book show that the things that made the first novel great are still there, beneath the surface.

It may be that the 'Book of Not' suffers from middle book syndrome - it is the second in a planned trilogy. As such, it ends up acting as a bridge between the two stronger pillars of the first and (hopefully) the third book. The inconclusive ending, the lack of 'closure' about favourite characters and complete absence of others, and the relatively weak plot structure, could all be said to be symptoms of the need to take readers from point A to point B. It doesn't entirely excuse all the faults of the novel, but I loved 'Nervous Conditions' enough to be prepared to give the final book a go once it's published.

I would potentially recommend waiting to read this book until the third novel is out, and seeing if the reviews indicate it is closer the first book in style and quality. However, I would recommend 'Nervous Conditions' without hesitation - it is an excellent book. It should definitely be read before this one, as this contains a lot of spoilers, and even if you don't bother with this or the sequel, it is worth reading 'Nervous Conditions' in its own right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story, 24 May 2009
This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story evolved naturally and gradually, the author painting the picture of growing up fractured between two cultures during the Zimbabwean Independence, and the protagonist's gradual loss of self during the years after. Well worth reading. The ending was a little disapponting though.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Not, 27 Feb 2007
By 
Mr. S. Reynell (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
So disappointing! I loved Tsitsi's first novel (Nervous Conditions), but - as is quite common, sadly - the sequel has little of the power of the first book. It seems ponderous and repetitive by comparison, and it is such a shame that - except for the excellent first chapter - so little of it takes place in the central character's home village. The acute gendered account of life in a Zimbabwean village was compelling in Nervous Conditions. Also Tambu's character is so much less engaging than in Nervous Conditions. You want to shake her so that she can rediscover something of her spirit and adventurousness from the first novel.

The most interesting aspect of this book is the portrayal of the war for liberation of Zimbabwe, which bursts into the narrative periodically. It is told with a fascinating even-handedness which will force many readers to re-assess their views of that struggle.

But overall it is a damp shadow of the earlier novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Aug 2008
This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
I really enjoyed Nervous Conditions and was pleased to find this sequel. I did not enjoy it, unfortunately. Perhaps the years have been unkind to Tsitsi, but what comes across throughout this book is a bitterness that is barely concealed. Tambu is no longer the little girl we are fond of and feel indignant about when she is mistreated. She is a cold, isolated and inhibited woman, not at all what one comes to expect from the previous book. I struggled to keep reading this book to the end, and once I did finish it I only felt relief, not the pleasure that usually comes from a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very different from Nervous Conditions, 8 April 2014
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This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
Tsitsi is a very talented writer I could not say this enough, she makes me proud to be Zimbabwean woman. As we all know this is a sequel from Nervous Conditions such an iconic book. The book is very well written no one can take that away from her, however her writing skills have evolved so much over the years that in my opinion it is such a departure from
the main aspects that made Nervous Conditions a success in the first place that is a clear plot of the time-line and places and affording the readers an intimate time with all the characters that matter. The Book of Not jumps and leaps through time lines and places somewhat almost drastically that I understand how it can put people off, not because this is not an impressive writing skill, it is-but because this is too different from what people were used to in Nervous Conditions.

I would not suggest anyone to read the Book of Not as a stand alone book please read Nervous Conditions first, I eagerly await the third book and I plead that Tsitsi finds a balance between the two books for her third. Does the Book of Not suffer from mid-book syndrome? Certainly. As a reader I could tell we are in transition as the naive and ambitious Tambu we grew to love is now convulated and like any woman who grew up in the near-post-colonial times you can sympathise and most importantly identify with her and not judge her alienation from her mother not too harshly. There is a lot of negativity in the book I understand it has thrown certain readers off I think what Tsitsi was communicating was that there are challenges at all levels of life and just when you think you have jumped the most important hurdle there are a thousand more for you to jump and overcome and in a way this is why Tambu is less driven and possitive as she was before. I am not too sure if Babamukuru's accident was necessary after all he had done for his extended family, I'm sure his paralysed state is not be taken on face value there is definately more in meaning why Tsistsi did not allow this previously revered figure to enter the free Zimbabwe as his old able self.

I have no doubt the final book in the trilogy is worth the wait and will be proud to have all 3 books to have pride of place in my library collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 16 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Book of Not: Stopping the Time (Paperback)
The Book of Not is a sequel to Dangerous Conditions, with Tambu still at the boarding school. The Zimbabwean war is ongoing, and Tambu and the other African students are expected to side with the white soldiers against their own families. The utter grind of facing racist ideas, and having to be on guard all the time about their own and others' behaviour is really well conveyed. I notice that another reviewer disliked the "bitterness" of the book - for me, that's one of the aspects that made it so gripping.
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Book of Not: Stopping the Time
Book of Not: Stopping the Time by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Paperback - 2 July 2006)
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