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Nervous Conditions (Nervous Conditions, #1)
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1001 book reviews > Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

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message 1: by Paula (new) - added it

Paula S (paula_s) | 220 comments 3 stars
A coming of age story about a young woman realizing how patriarchy is affecting her and her female relatives. I struggled a bit with this book since I had no idea where the author was going and she didn't seem to ever get anywhere. I think I will get more out of this book if I ever reread it. It was very well-written and the narrative flowed smoothly, I just didn't really get it.

Kristel (kristelh) | 4109 comments Mod
2015 This is part autobiographical novel of Tsitsi Dangarembga, who wrote this novel in her mid twenties. She is Shona and lives in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and tells of her efforts to obtain education and escape poverty. The epilogue states; "The condition of native is a nervous condition." taken from an introduction to Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. Its a great work of fiction with well developed characters. Ms Dangarembga does not use the book to speak about racism or social commentary but shows it to us through the characters. Whites appear very little in this book. This is a book about male/female relationships in a patriarchal tribal family. Tambu's mother tells her "what will help you,my child, is to learn to carry your burdens with strength." The novel looks at what foreign influence and sexism has on this one tribal family. Their success is in how they learn to battle the burdens and disadvantages with strength.

I enjoyed the writing.

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
4 stars. Read in 2015

The story starts “I was not sorry when my brother died”, said by the main character Tambu. I knew when I read this that I was in for a great story, I was not disappointed. “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”. In hindsight, the author really summed up the story on the first page. The story was filled with strong women which I appreciated. I would like to read the sequel, The Book of Not as I liked the author's writing.

message 4: by Pip (last edited Sep 07, 2021 08:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pip | 1409 comments This is an amazing book. The first person narrative tells the story of Tambu, who is growing up in the Rhodesia of the 1960's. There were many similarities to the patriachal society I experienced when living in Fiji in the 1980's. Women and children don't eat until the men and boys have had all they want; women sit on the floor just inside the door while men use chairs and beds; men's opinions are the only ones which count, and women not only cook and clean and raise the children, but also work in the fields. So the way that Tambu was raised and the way her mother accepted the status quo were familiar territory. The novel starts with the arresting sentence "I was not sorry when my brother died". Immediately the reader knows that this is a feminist story, and as Tambu's brother is revealed to be both misogynist and despicable, stealing the mealies that Tambu has painstakingly grown to pay for her own education while he takes his education and access to her mealies to be a right, the reader understands Tambu's reaction to her brother's death. His death led to her being given a similar opportunity to have an education, an opportunity which she took with alacrity. Her efforts to maintain a respectful and dutiful attitude while experiencing the power of the patrimony in the form of her uncle, and her attempts to understand the much more emotional reactions of her cousin to what was expected of the two of them, as young women, is the subject of much of the rest of the book. The title is a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre "The condition of the native is a nervous condition" and Tambu is living in such a condition - coping with traditional expectations and her own ambitions - despite white Rhodesians having a peripheral place in the story until the final chapters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was the first novel published by a black Zimbabwan. She has written two more about the same female characters, the last one was nominated for the Booker Prize. I intend to read them both.

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